We believe that in order to make a sustainable difference (results that last 10+ years or longer) with WASH in schools, an approach that combines the construction of WASH facilities at schools with training of the stakeholders and children is required. An entrepreneurial spirit and local ownership of interventions are indispensable. This integrated approach is set forth in a highly structured ‘Theory of Change’ process, wherein steps for success are broken down into smaller interventions and indicators. The diagram below shows a number stepping stones included in our integrated Football & WASH approach.
Not surprisingly, research confirms that schools with access to clean water and toilets have healthier pupils, higher enrollment and better attendance records, especially of (adolescent) girls. Absenteeism through illnesses and of girls during their menstruation cycle is significantly reduced. Good health correlates with better academic performance.
Clean and safe facilities
Football for Water provides school children with access to safe drinking water, clean toilets and hygiene education. We install or improve handwashing facilities at public primary schools, ensure safe sanitation facilities for girls (and boys) and improve football facilities. We work with locally available products and artisans and we comply with the national and international regulations and standards for safe and clean water and sanitation facilities.
Girl empowerment is one of the key elements: girls participate equally with boys in the life skills trainings and football activities. Our program has already positively influenced girls in many ways. Girls need to be able to speak openly about topics such as menstrual hygiene and they need to feel safe when using the school sanitation facilities. Therefore we provide suitable facilities for adolescent girls like changing rooms.
Learning can be fun
When it’s also fun, learning becomes easier. The fun factor and the discipline of sports are tools that Football for Water uses to impart new and hygiene habits and healthier routines. Through the WorldCoaches football and life skills education, the school-community football tournaments and school health clubs, children play, have fun and learn at the same time.
Inspiring role models
Well-chosen role models serve as powerful motivators of behavior change. As our WorldCoaches demonstrate healthy hygiene behavior, pupils are keen to emulate their good example. We involve local and national football heroes such as the Black Queens of Ghana or former players of the Orange Lions of the Netherlands as role models. The positive impact continues as children become champions of change as well. We select children to form health clubs and inspire their peers.
The program has a unique three-step focus on sustainability:
1. Capacity building of school teachers, school management, local entrepreneurs and pupils to improve the maintenance of the WASH facilities.
2. Local ownership. We lobby regional and national governments to become drivers behind achieving WASH in schools. As Football for Water becomes better known and the positive impact of the program is acknowledged, we work toward mainstreaming the approach in order to be both cost-efficient and effective. Ultimately the importance of safe water, sanitation and good hygiene must find its way into school curriculum or government policy to enable regional or national scale-up.
3. Sustainable financial models. We develop sustainable innovative models that support financial management and cost recovery of WASH facilities.
The creativity at school level for new sustainable cost recovery models is inspiring: we see school gardening, water vending, paid public use of utilities after school-time, soap production, tree-seedling and sunflower production using urine (Urigold) etc. These models show the potential for schools to generate the necessary income to cover costs of operations and maintenance and make facilities sustainable.
Community involvement is a key factor for success. With the creativity and commitment of local stakeholders we create a great spin-off and have a more sustainable impact on the lives of the children. In order to create these conditions, we draft a Memorandum of Understanding with local stakeholders in which roles and responsibilities are set. If necessary, we train and support our partners and stakeholders with capacity building activities. We support partners with learning and exchange programs to keep improving on our approach and implementation activities.
To engage the wider community we host football competitions or tournaments. We invite other schools and teams to join. During these events our teams and coaches share information on hygiene and the importance of clean water and sanitation with their peers in a festive way.