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Oct 8, 2018

Water is Life!

Educators building a water filter system a school
Educators building a water filter system a school

School is back in session in Burundi and in many schools around the world. The start of a new school year brings learning, fun, friends, and of course, the planting of another year’s school gardens! The four schools in the Burundi 4-H Sister School program are gearing up to start their fourth 4-H year strong! Burundi 4-H educators have been working all summer on their annual plan for the new school years gardening program, and for the past several weeks 4-H educators have been visiting schools and meeting with teachers and principals to present the plan. The annual plan includes school gardening objectives, professional development plans, and goals for the 4-H afterschool peace clubs. The annual plans are developed based on evaluation data and input collected throughout the year from community members, garden management committee members, youth, school teachers, school administrators, 4-H educators, and NGO partners. This month, Burundi 4-H educators are busy preparing for an upcoming professional development training for school teachers and administrators from all four participating schools. As soon as the rainy season begins this October, children will begin planting this falls harvest.

Each year, the youth and schools participating in the Burundi 4-H school gardening program experience tremendous growth. This past school year, the introduction of water filter systems at each school has helped the program reach new heights. Most of the schools in Burundi do not have running water and children at school are suffering from thirst.Now with water filter systems at each Burundi 4-H Sister School, schools have taken measures to keep filters filled with water so that children can have access to clean water anytime. During the majority of the school year, the rainy season from October – April provides plenty of rainwater to the water catchment systems, and the schools then use the water filter systems to purify the rainwater for drinking and handwashing. During the drier months when school is in session (April – June) children will often bring water to school to filter. The introduction of water filter systems has made it so that rainwater stored in the water catchment systems can be purified and is used for drinking and handwashing, in addition to irrigating the gardens. Access to clean water at the schools greatly reduces the spread of infectious diseases, flu, diarrhea, and the common cold. The water filter systems were constructed at each school by educators who were trained by a non-profit organization called Friendly Water for the World*. The BioSand Water Filters are made on site from cement. Once constructed, sand is added to the filter, then water is added to the sand and the water becomes filtered as it passes through. The sand is purchased from local supplier and is replaced over time at a very inexpensive cost.

Another outcome resulting from the accessiblity of water on the school grounds is the establishment of nurseries. This past year students began creating nurseries and learning how to transplant seeds. Normally in Burundi, nurseries are found in valleys, however since each school has a collection of water stored in the water catchment systems, nurseries are now able to be located at the school. Nurseries are taken care of by the children with the help of the 4-H agricultural technician and school teachers. Students are planting seeds in the nurseries and once the plants are big enough, they transplant them into theirgardens. Additionally, many of the extra starter plants have been sent home with the students to share with their families for their homegardens 

Access to water, especially clean water, for the students has a huge impact on their learning, health, and their communities. As always, the immense success of the Burundi 4-H School gardening program is made possible through your continued support of this program. Thank you to all our donors, supporters, and partners! JOIN US in spreading the word about this program to your friends and family. Like and share our story on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Wsu4HBurundiProject/

*To learn more about Friendly Water for the World visit http://www.friendlywater.net/

Educators adding sand to the water filter system
Educators adding sand to the water filter system
School children adding water to the filter system
School children adding water to the filter system
School children filling containers of clean water
School children filling containers of clean water
Students using the water filter
Students using the water filter
Jul 9, 2018

What happens to the food from the school gardens?

Students showcasing their harvest
Students showcasing their harvest

School is almost out for the summer in Burundi. The students are amidst exam season and most classes wrap up July 14th. As the third year of the Burundi 4-H School Gardening program comes to a close, we have been reflecting on how the program continues to evolve and grow every year. The Burundi 4-H School Gardening Program began as a way to teach youth hands-on gardening practices and to develop livelihood skills that would help them provide nourishment to themselves, and build capacity in their communities to improve food insecurity. For three years now, students, educators, and community members have achieved and surpassed the original goal of the program.

The Burundi 4-H school gardens received a plentiful rainy season this Spring and have been able to harvest crops since February. While there was some diversity among the schools with regards to what was planted, crops included: carrots, corn, beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, amaranth, cassava, greens and watermelon.

So, what happens to the food grown in the 4-H School Gardens? Turns out…A LOT! 

Depending on the size the of the harvest, schools utilize the food grown in a variety of ways. One of the schools participates in a school food feeding program with the *World Food Programme (WFP). Some of the vegetables harvested from this school’s garden were donated to the school lunch program and used to supplement the beans provided by WFP. Schools in the Gitega area also organize cooking events at the school, including open door celebrations. Open Door celebrations are an opportunity for the community to get together to learn and celebrate the success of the school gardens. During these events, students cook a meal using some of the harvest and serve it to the community, lead garden tours and showcase what they have learned in the schools gardens. This past June, the Gitega area held an Open Door celebration and invited local community leaders, school administration, the entire school population, families, and even extended an invitation to neighboring schools participating in the 4-H School Garden Program. Representatives (teachers, community members, and children) from schools in neighboring communities attended the Gitega Open Door celebration to learn about what is happening in other school gardens and to bring information back to their school's 4-H gardening program.

Sometimes the school gardens produce such large quantities of carrots, that the harvest is given to the children to take home to their families or are eaten by the kids at school. 4-H educators have reported that students love working in the garden and eating the carrots right out of the ground! They have also shared that planting carrots is seen as an innovative practice at the schools because carrots are not a very common crop and are primarily grown in some of the colder regions of Burundi. Due to the students increased interest and skill in gardening, some of the children have begun gardening in their own villages and are initiating planting carrots and other vegetables at home with their families.

Some of the harvest (e.g. beans, corn) produces such large quantities that the schools and community members have decided that this harvest should be shared and sold at market. Funds gained from selling produce are used to purchase supplies and educational materials for 4-H peace clubs (e.g. paper, dancing kits and costumes, tools, etc.). 4-H Peace clubs are an example of an indirect outcome of the 4-H school gardening program and began this past school year at a few of the schools. In 4-H Peace Clubs, children are brought together afterschool to discuss many topics including hygiene, peace building, conflict resolution, farming, cultural activities like drumming and dancing, and sports like football (i.e. soccer). Peace clubs have been an informal way for kids to come together to grow, develop their social and emotional skills, and work towards positive change for a brighter future together.

The immense success of the Burundi 4-H School gardening program is made possible through your continued support of this program. Thank you to all our donors, supporters, and partners! JOIN US in spreading the word about this program to your friends and family. Like and share our story on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Wsu4HBurundiProject/

Students with their harvest
Students with their harvest
Students preparing the soil for planting
Students preparing the soil for planting
Students in their garden
Students in their garden

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Apr 10, 2018

Water Filter Systems Installed at Schools!

Students and Teacher at school
Students and Teacher at school

New this spring is the installation of water filter systems at all four of the schools. Now the water stored from the water catchment system, students and teachers can use the water to water the gardens, and to drink and to use for hygiene. With the installation of water catchment and filtration systems, students’ lives just got a whole lot better. Water lies at the heart of everything that is important to human life. We drink it. We use it to grow our food and we use water to clean ourselves. Now students no longer need to bring water from home every day in order to have access to clean water at school. The water is already there! The water from the catchment and filtration systems is being used for drinking, irrigation and hand washing. Having access to a dependable water supply is leading to better food security. With less crop loss, hunger is reduced. Students can be fed from the gardens. In addition, the benefits of having access to drinking water and hand washing facilities is improving the overall health conditions at the schools. Every part of our body relies on hydration to work properly:   From our skin and brain to digestion, muscle maintenance and organ function we need water to operate. While drinking water helps to keep people healthy, hand washing is key to maintaining good hygiene. With hand washing facilities now at their fingertips at school, students are able to practice good hygiene by washing their hands on a regular basis throughout the day. With the installation of the water catchment and filtration systems, student absenteeism is reduced.   Children are practicing better hygiene and drinking clean water. These two practices greatly reduce the spread of infectious diseases, flu, diarrhea, and the common cold.     Students are able to stay in school and learn! Thank you Donors for all you give to make this possible.

 

Working in the well watered gardens
Working in the well watered gardens
 
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