Genesis and Goals of IRHA’s Blue Schools Programmes
Thousands of schools in the world lack adequate access to water or sanitation. Very often both of these fundamental conditions for good hygiene are missing. Humanity has stepped into the twenty-first century still carrying the heavy burden to provide water and sanitation to millions of people. One of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals was to reduce by half the proportion of people in the world who do have any access to safe drinking water by 2015; unfortunately, this goal was not reached.
Many institutions are involved in the challenge to give access to water and sanitation to those in need. All of them recognize that the prime beneficiaries must be children not only because they are the most vulnerable but also because they represent the future builders of our world.
It is therefore high time we guarantee better conditions to the weakest in order to ensure not only their health, but also their understanding of the problems linked to water and the environment.
The Blue Schools Programme is an initiative of the International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA). Confronted with numerous demands to introduce rainwater harvesting (RWH) in schools in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, IRHA has decided to enlarge the scope of its efforts and to work to create the necessary basis for a healthy development and environmental consciousness of children in schools.
This Programme is in tune with the principles of Integrated Water Resource Management.
Key elements of the Blue Schools Programme
There is a number of actions in each projects, which the IRHA considers as a priority. Providing access to water by the means of Rainwater Harvesting, improving or introducing better sanitation and planting a tree by each child are considered as the “obligatory” part of it.
The other modules developed here bellow are optional. The collaboration between the local partner, the school’s and village’s authorities, the parents and finally, the IRHA staff, will define the list of the needed and wished innovations which should be introduced, as well as the scale of the local participation in the project.
- Rainwater harvesting management
A good management of rainwater based on an adequate technology allows to supply some water in schools. The so collected rainwater could, in case of request, be made drinkable and the staff of the school formed by the IRHA will take care of the potabilisation.
- Adequate sanitation and hygiene
Adequate sanitation will be introduced into schools. It allows children to use healthy toilets and reduces the risks of pollution of the groundwater caused by an unsuitable sanitation. The toilet blocks for girls, boys and teachers are separated which contributes to an increase of the school enrolment rate in particular that of the girls.
- “A child, a tree” Initiative
The children participate in a campaign of reforestation. They learn the specifities of the local species and can plant trees in the court of the school, in the nearby park or in the nature, in coordination with the Direction of the school and the local authorities. Thus, every child has his own tree and is responsible for it. In certain projects, we may introduce the planting of fruit trees in private residence of the children, contributing not only to the improvement of the landscape and the environment, but also to the nutrition of families.
- Initiation into the management of solid waste
The children undertake to manage waste in the schools: they sort out the recyclable materials, transform the organic waste into compost and maintain the cleanliness.
- Hygiene course and environmental education
The children learn how to use the new structures and the standards of hygiene. They also acquire knowledge on the cycle of the water, on the recycling of waste water and on the gestures for the protection of the environment. The global warming and the ways of adaptation are a part of the Program of the course, as well as of activities practised in schools.
- Peace promotion and tolerance
The Program plans courses where the pupils learn how to accept the difference of each one and to practise dialogue to overcome differences. The women’s position, the gender equity, the practice of dialogue and the nonviolence are tackled issues.
Optional elements of the Program “Blue Schools”
Optional elements are included in this Program as:
- Action “Kitchen garden at school”
- The development of a ground of volleyball (chosen in the Program as a sport as adapted for the boys as for the girls, but also allowing to play in mixed teams)
- The contribution of solar energy in schools
- The initiation into computer system.
Direct beneficiaries are the children in the school and the school staff who will enjoy the new water installation, the sanitation facilities, etc.
Direct beneficiaries are also the families of pupils studying in a Blue School. The children will have improved health and will be able to teach their parents the good environmental and hygiene practices learnt in school.
The village, town or city inhabitants and their respective local authorities will have the convincing proof that rainwater harvesting is a valuable means to supply water and hygiene improvement. The measures included in the Programme: improved sanitation, better water, food availability, the protection of the environment and basic computer education will be profitable for the entire school neighbourhood.
The example of the Blue Schools must be reproduced in other regions and in all needier countries. The applied technologies are low-cost and the knowledge are easy to pass on.
Pilot projects Blue Schools could be scaled up in other regions and in all needier countries. The applied technologies are low-cost and the knowledge are easy to pass on.
This happened in Himachal Pradesh, India, where the authorities, well informed by the local partner on the prepared action, have declared that they will support institutionally the scaling up of the project in the entire state. In the same way, the Malian Ministry of Education addressed to the IRHA a letter asking it to start working on a national level.
The snowball effect could also be seen under another angle: the children will start to teach their parents on the newly learnt experiences. Hygienic and environmental behaviour will start to be something usual for the population in the region where a Blue School project has been implemented.
Please have a look on the photo gallery of IRHA’s Blue Schools Programme