Young pupil from Kamwi School
No project is more essential than that to improve access to safe water in remote schools and communities. It is heart-breaking to see children drinking from bacteria-infested streams and rivers, especially when the rivers are teaming with crocodiles.
A third of Zambians do not have access to safe water, thousands of people walk several miles daily to fetch water, much of it unclean. Contaminated water is a leading cause of diarrhoeal disease in Zambia, Schistosomiasis, (also known as Balharzia) and Rotavirus are common and can be fatal in infants.
Annually, there are an estimated 10.5 million cases of diarrhoea, 63,000 hospitalisations and 15,000 deaths attributed to the disease in children under-five in Zambia. The Butterfly Tree’s aim is to source communities in Zambia desperately in need of bore holes and find schools with insufficient sanitation.
Recently I visited Nampuyani School, in the Nyawe Chiefdom, where children were drinking unsafe water from shallow wells. During the rainy season, November to April, the pupils dug these wells to collect water for storage during the dry season. By May one of the two wells was already dry. These wells are being used by animals at night, further polluting the water.
Lack of sanitation is another huge issue, more than fifty per cent of Zambians do not have sanitation facilities. Schools can be closed down by the government if there are insufficient latrines, diarrhoeal diseases are common amongst pupils.
The Butterfly Tree has added eleven bore holes to schools throughout the Chiefdoms of Mukuni, Sikute, Musokotwane and Nyawe in the Southern Province of Zambia. Adding a bore hole not only gives the pupils access to safe drinking water, but also helps them to have a sustainable feeding programs. Most of the children at these schools are orphaned and vulnerable so feeding programs are essential.
In addition the charity has constructed over forty latrines in schools, which has considerably helped to reduce the diarrhoeal diseases, resulting in less absenteeism. The children are taught basic hygiene.
Next month three volunteers from Enactus, a student-run company based at the University of Sheffield will volunteer for The Butterfly Tee. Their intention is to improve the water facility at Ng’andu Basic School and help to initiate a soap-making project as part of our Ecotourism plan, to create a sustainable enterprise for school leavers. An American family will also volunteer in July and have kindly raised funds for a bore hole.
We are grateful for all the support we have received from our donors, which has enbabled us to provide safe drinking water for so many schools and expand our water projects in Zambia.