What is our Water Education Initiative in Benin?
The goal of this initiative in Benin is to empower children to become Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) leaders and give them a voice to tell their water stories.
- Give children the opportunity to interact with children in other countries who live a different reality in terms of water, thus they can make better decisions.
- Give children educational tools to have an impact on their local communities.
What is the water situation in Benin?
Canada has so much fresh water (with the Great Lakes representing 20% of the World freshwater) but most people take it for granted and that is how we became one of the biggest consumers of water in the world, along with the United States. The situation is different in Benin, where most people don’t have access to drinkable water and sanitation systems. Because of this precarious water situation in Benin, we want to focus on reaching out their communities, specifically children.
Stats in Benin
Benin is a small country located in West Africa. French is the official language but people from over 40 different ethnicities live there. In 2012, 76% of the population had access to improved potable water sources but only 14% had access to improved sanitation facilities. More than 40% of the urban population did not have access to toilets in 2006, and over 80% in rural areas. The life expectancy is 59 years and half of the population are youth (under 18).
First-hand experience in Benin
Ecoloodi went to Benin in 2015 and met with elementary schools, local NGOs and cities. We experienced first-hand various water situations, from South to North:
- Access to drinking water is primarily concentrated in the cities.
- Many people get water from the nearest creek, which could be several hours away.
- Sanitation is almost non-existent and many people simply defecate in nature.
The teachers we met asked us for visual aids and educational materials such as posters, videos, books, and games that will help them better educate and engage their students about environmental issues. Some of the schools had great initiatives, such as a group of students responsible for water and hygiene at school, but they did not have the appropriate tools or structure to keep their projects alive.
Our program coordinator in Benin, Mélaine Awassi, has collaborated with teachers from selected schools to create new educational materials for grades 1 to 6 relevant to them. They have identified six identified priority topics:
- Grade 1: Importance of Water
- Grade 2: Water Cycle
- Grade 3: Water Pollution
- Grade 4: Defecation & Hand-Washing
- Grade 5: Water Diseases
- Grade 6: Water Consumption & Treatment
We already sent to Benin copies of our book about the water cycle “H2O: The Story of the little drop” and our famous MEMO-LOODI games, which were received very well and has become favorite educational tools for teachers. Read more about Benin
How can you be involved?
When you book one of our In-class Workshops, we also discuss the water situation in Benin and present the WASH topics selected by the teachers from Benin. Then, we empower children in Canada by asking them to develop educational tools for children in Benin (posters, books, games or videos), and we empower children in Benin because they will select the tools they want. Both children in Canada and Benin are provided with the selected educational tools to educate their community during the process.
In addition to the workshops and the contest, children exchange their water stories by telling each other how they interact with water on a daily basis; this can be presented through skype conversations, emails, stories, poetry, photos, videos, etc.
Read this page in: French