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.




 A community health worker teaches schoolchildren the importance of drinking only treated water. Teaching, however, hasn't been enough to change their habits.

A community health worker teaches schoolchildren the importance of drinking only treated water. Teaching, however, hasn't been enough to change their habits.

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 to 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 would drink it without immediate negative consequences or reprimand.





Working closely with HopeCore's field team, we're creating kid-focused signage for the clean tanks, holding workshops with teachers to ally them to the cause, and relocating tanks to better positions at several schools.













Our findings let us design a social 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.



In the first school semester of 2018, our design changes will be launched at 3 pilot schools. We're aiming for 5X more children regularly drinking clean water, and we will be measuring impact against control group schools.



We are now in the implementation phase of the project, having just begun in late 2017. Already, Village HopeCore's Public Health Team of community health workers and nurses are seeing their programs through the lens of behavior change. Check back in spring 2018 for results of the pilot project! Once proven successful, interventions will be rolled out to all 180 schools.