Written by Robert Vincent, QBLUS Projects Coordinator
What is the most important long-term benefit of a QBL water project?
- Organizing and training men and women in the community to build and maintain the project?
- Providing the pipes, concrete, and technical expertise to make it happen?
- Monitoring the project after it’s completed to be sure it continues to function?
- Educating the community to bring the health benefits of clean water to adults and children?
If I had to choose, hygiene education is the facet of our work that can make the biggest impact.
The Dangers of Traditional Wisdom
Cultures develop theories to explain why things happen. These theories can be useful; for example, how certain plants can be used for medicinal purposes. Others are often quaint, but benign. Many people in the Andes believe you can tell the future by looking at how the coca leaves fall.
Other beliefs can have fatal consequences. With each water project we fund, we ask the families if they know why their children get sick and how to cure it. The answers from some of the most recent reports have been surprising. In one of the communities, 50% of the families thought that diarrhea was caused by children falling as they were learning to walk. Others thought that it was due to the cold weather. A significant number of families believe that the best way to treat diarrhea is to drink less water.
Because many families don’t understand the relationship of hygiene to health, it is not surprising that in some villages as many as 50% of the children have had diarrhea in the last two months. Three children have died in the past two years because they did not get the appropriate treatment. This is where QBL can provide essential training so that these families can live healthier lives.
Education for Children and Families
Each QBL water project includes education about why children get sick and how to treat them. Dollar for dollar, this education has the biggest impact for the investment we make. For as little as $8/family, we survey the families to learn what they know and don’t know about children’s illnesses. We then hold workshops with children, and then later with adults, explaining why people get sick, the importance of hygiene, and what to do if a family member gets sick.
Your donations provide knowledge that will last a lifetime. Your help enables QBL to literally save lives. Thanks!