the problem: stunting
In Kenya, 35% of children are stunted. Stunting doesn’t just make children smaller, it also affects their cognitive development and puts them at risk of having stunted children of their own. This cycle is a drain on the nation’s economy and growth.
Improving water and sanitation is one step toward tackling malnutrition. Without clean water, diarrhea and gut dysfunction prevent nutrients from being absorbed.
PARTNER & PROJECT LOCATION
Village HopeCore International is a nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty in the rural communities around Chogoria, Eastern Kenya. Appleseed works with HopeCore's Public Health Team, who provide critical services to 45,000 children and their mothers via mobile clinics at nearly 200 schools.
In Kenya, over 90% of primary-school aged children attend school. Unfortunately, they often do not have access to clean drinking water at school. In 2014, HopeCore accomplished something amazing: they installed clean water tanks in all 180 schools of Maara Sub-County, serving 45,000 children (a size comparable to the very largest school districts in the United States). Problem solved, right? Not quite.
Though HopeCore implemented a critical solution and taught children the importance of using it, we found via direct observation that just 8% of children were actually drinking clean water. We needed to find out why and what their motivations were. That would allow us to help them to change to only drinking clean water, and make that a lifelong habit.
Applying our approach
Listening to and observing kids, we found that most knew they should drink clean water. Half drank from the correct tanks, but schools hadn't maintained them. Others drank untreated water for the taste, easy access, and because their peers drank it without immediate consequences or reprimand.
Working closely with HopeCore's field team, we’ve created kid-focused signage for the clean tanks, workshops to ally teachers to the cause, and plans to relocate tanks to better positions at several schools.
Our findings let us design a behavioral marketing strategy that would to make it harder to accidentally drink unclean water, while simultaneously motivating kids to be more vigilant. Also, changing the way teachers supported the effort would be key.
Our design changes have been launched at 3 pilot schools. We're aiming for 5X more children regularly drinking clean water, measuring impact against control group schools.
WHAT WE'VE ACHIEVED TOGETHER
We are now in the implementation phase of the project. Already, Village HopeCore's Public Health Team of community health workers and nurses are seeing their programs through the lens of behavior change. Results of the pilot project coming soon! Once proven successful, interventions will be rolled out to all 180 schools.