A lack of clean water, along with poor hygiene and sanitation, is a major problem in developing countries. One in eight people worldwide have no access to clean water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. Those who must rely on contaminated water for drinking, cooking and bathing face serious health consequences: parasites, diarrhea, dehydration and other water-related diseases that kill more than 3 million people each year.
Children International (CI) is a global child- and youth-development organization whose focus is on supporting impoverished children so they can grow up to be healthy, educated and self-reliant with the job skills and drive to break free from poverty. To accomplish these goals, CI participates in a number of wide-ranging water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects.
Children International works with the nonprofit international development organization Planet Water Foundation to bring clean water to the impoverished communities that CI serves. Planet Water's community-based water-filtration systems, known as AquaTowers, can be installed in a single day, require only simple maintenance and are a highly sustainable solution. Each AquaTower provides clean water for 1,000 people on a daily basis. The two organizations also educate communities on the importance of drinking clean, safe water, protecting against germs and proper handwashing. Children International's Youth Health Corps is a critical component of the program's success. Its teen participants educate other youth on health and safety issues and train them to become peer educators who spread life-saving health messages to their communities at-large.
To date, Children International and Planet Water have built 28 AquaTowers in the Philippines and India, providing clean water and hygiene education to more than 28,000 people. And for World Water Day 2015, Children International is supporting Planet Water's Project 24, which aims "to move the hands of time forward in 24 impoverished communities by installing and commissioning 24 clean water filtration systems in just 24 hours."
New this year, Children International is launching a Youth Health Ambassador program to bring WASH education to thousands more people. The program, which will use a curriculum created by Children International and Planet Water, equips members of CI's Youth Health Corps to teach younger children and their caregivers about health and hygiene. The program will include five workshops on topics from germs and personal hygiene to handwashing, safe water consumption and conservation. While the young ambassadors will teach most lessons at Children International's community centers, a mobile component will allow them to educate children and adults at schools, churches and homes, as well.
When asked why he would want to be a part of the Youth Health Ambassadors program, one youth in the Philippines replied, "We want to be health ambassadors because we want to be good examples and role models to other youth who are not yet informed about proper health education."
Children International is launching the Youth Health Ambassadors program in Colombia, Guatemala, India and the Philippines this year.
Source: Children International