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A thirst for learning

28 November 2023, Impact of Our Work

Rebuilding school water facilities after devastating cyclone 

Vanuatu is no stranger to cyclones. The small island nation has already experienced three harrowing storms this year. The clean-up can take years. Replacing vital infrastructure on remote islands can be incredibly difficult, especially in schools.  

In 2020, cyclone Harold left widespread destruction. Among the many challenges, installing water tanks in schools emerged as a critical need. 

Together with our supporters and the Global Partnership for Education, we’ve installed 87 tanks in as many schools. Today, countless young learners have clean water to drink so they can remain alert in class. 

Fresh sips, bright smiles

“It’s really good having the water tanks at our school. When I drink from it, the water is fresh and it’s also nice and cold,”  shares Tekisha, a 14-year-old student from Santo Island. “When I’m thirsty and I have a drink, the water tastes much better”  she adds. 

Tekisha (14), Toufau (6), Kalmara (11) and Ashley (12) appreciate the new water tank installed at their school. 

Beyond quenching thirst, the project has also helped improve hygiene by installing handwashing stations connected to the tanks. Students such as 12-year-old Ashley have embraced these facilities, recognizing the importance of good hygiene practices in preventing the spread of diseases. 

“I use the hand washing stations before and after the restroom and before eating. It’s important because the hand washing stations help us keep clean, and this way, we don’t get sick,”  she says.  

The decision to prioritize safe water and hygiene in cyclone-affected primary schools, originally conceived as a response to the cyclone's aftermath, but also became critically important in Vanuatu's fight against Covid-19.

Collaborative efforts for maximum impact

The Ministry of Education and Training collaborated with Save the Children and ADRA to install the tanks. Schools were selected based on a careful assessment of the damage caused by the cyclone, ensuring help was given to those that had been most impacted. 

Kalmara (11) practices good hygiene thanks to a handwashing station installed by the project. 

11-year-old Kalmara expresses her gratitude for the new water tank at her school, which helps her stay hydrated in class. “ It’s good to have this water tank here. I drink 2 glasses of water in the morning, another 2 at lunch, and another 2 glasses in the afternoon,”  she says.  

Rebuilding after a cyclone is long, slow and careful work, made more challenging by subsequent cyclones. But by carefully installing high-quality infrastructure, we’re ensuring schools and communities not only recover but build resilience for future disasters. 

This project was funded by the Global Partnership for Education and delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Training, ADRA, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and UNICEF. 

Collaboration with government and partners is crucial for ensuring needs are met after a disaster.

Photos: Matakambu / Save the Children Vanuatu.

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