We focus on building wells because they are a simple, sustainable solution to many complex problems, including school attendance, gender inequality, and disease caused by dirty water.

By providing clean water, you can…

  1. Improve school attendance. Both boys and girls are more likely to go to school when there’s water there. That’s because instead of taking a long walk to a faraway river, lake or well, they can walk to school, stay there to learn, and then return home with water for their families in the evening.
  2. Decrease gender inequality. In most families in developing countries, it is a girl’s responsibility to fetch water. The long walk may force her to miss school, and if her school doesn’t have clean water, she is even less likely to attend class, because she won’t be able to get a drink or wash her hands. But by providing access to water and separate bathrooms for boys and girls, the number of girls who are in school can increase by up to 15%!
  3. Decrease disease. In developing countries, diarrhea caused by a lack of clean water is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 5. That’s why we construct boreholes for schools and communities—a borehole for a well can reach safe, uncontaminated water deep underground. And because disease can spread when people don’t practice proper hygiene, we also build latrines (aka bathrooms) and let people know how important it is to wash their hands.

When you participate in Walk4Wells, you walk for millions of young people who struggle to find clean water every day. Walk4Wells and help students reach their dreams!

Q: WHAT DOES PLAN DO?

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A: Plan International works in over 50 countries around the world to end the cycle of poverty for children and families. Our solutions are designed up-front to be owned by communities, and they range from water and health programs, to education and child protection initiatives.

When it comes to water, Plan is a recognized leader in Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). The CLTS approach empowers communities to take collective action in order to improve sanitation and hygiene. For example, people mobilize to end open defecation, and to build latrines with affordable, locally available resources so that they don’t need outside assistance.

Plan also engages children and youth in teaching their friends and families about water treatment, protection of water sources and the environment, good hygiene practices, and proper disposal of waste (including poop!).

In 2012, people like you helped us to reach over 400,000 households in order to improve their bathroom facilities, and helped communities to build and restore nearly 4,000 clean water wells.  Learn more about Plan’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, and you will be amazed how something so simple can have such an impact.

Community by community, Plan works to promise futures that are worthy of all children’s potential. With over 75 years of experience, we know how to create sustainable change–but we need your help to do it.

Q: WHERE DO THE DONATIONS GO?

A: This year, Walk4Wells takes you to Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa. 1 in 5 Burkinabe people has no access to drinkable water and 4 in 5 have no access to improved sanitation—in short, no access to toilets that work! Burkina Faso also has one of the lowest literacy rates (23%) of any country in the world. That’s why Plan International USA has teamed up with the government of Burkina Faso and several other non-governmental organizations for the Burkinabe Response to Improve Girls’ Chances to Succeed (BRIGHT) project.

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Just like children and teenagers in this country, youth in the developing world have dreams for their futures. But the opportunities to pursue those dreams are simply nonexistent. Through your Walk4Wells event, you can help provide essential funding to equip schools with clean water wells and bathrooms so that students can stay healthy and stay in school.

BRIGHT began in 2005. It’s a project that focuses on improving access to and quality of education, especially for girls. So far, it has resulted in 10 new boreholes, 7 repaired boreholes, 260 new blocks of latrines, 260 new hand washing devices, and nearly 600 teachers trained in WASH, among many other positive impacts in 10 provinces.

One participant reported that because of the BRIGHT project: “Our children are educated. Plus, we broke out of ignorance thanks to the literacy training. Our diet and hygiene have also improved. We have better access to potable water.”

Burkina Response to Increase Development of Girls’ Education, or BRIDGE, will expand upon the successes of BRIGHT and build schools with boreholes and separate boys’ and girls’ latrines.

Your contributions to the Walk4Wells campaign will support this excellent work and provide even more Burkinabe girls and boys with better schools and healthier living.

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Now that you understand the problem and the project, are you ready for the facts and numbers?

  • An estimated 2.2 million people die every year due to a lack of sanitation, insufficient quantity and quality of water, and poor personal hygiene (not washing hands, open defecation, and so on).
  • Around 90% of those deaths are among children less than 5 years old. That’s because poor water quality, as well as poor sanitation and hygiene, lead to high rates of pneumonia among children in developing countries, which is the leading cause of death for children.
  • There’s good news, too! After years of hard work, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water was achieved in 2010–five years ahead of schedule. However, much work remains to be done.
  • 780 million people still lack access to drinkable water, but that pales in comparison to the 2.5 billion people who still lack access to adequate sanitation (including toilets and latrines).

These are big numbers. These are big problems. The good news is that they have simple, practical solutions. Here are just a few:

  • Clean water wells (or boreholes). These wells can come with gravity flow piped water,  manual pumps or child-friendly hand pumps, water systems with filters and storage tanks, and solar power methods pumping and disinfecting water. When people get their drinking water from these clean sources, they are less likely to get sick.
  • Handwashing with soap and water. This practice requires some resources (like soap and water), but also reminders in order to encourage people to wash their hands every time after they use the bathroom.
  • Sanitary toilets or latrines. In communities that don’t have running water, it’s impossible to have flush toilets. That’s where Plan helps communities find and use local, affordable resources to build latrines that are clean, safe, and environmentally-friendly, and require no running water.
Q: ISN'T WATER MORE IMPORTANT THAN SANITATION?

A: Clean water is incredibly important, but without clean latrines and handwashing, children will still get sick. That’s why there are important action days, like Global Handwashing Day (October 15) and World Toilet Day (November 17), in addition to World Water Day (March 22). These problems are related and their solutions are related, too.

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Q: WHAT ABOUT WATER AND GIRLS?

A: Water, sanitation, and hygiene issues affect everyone in the community, but they have an even bigger impact on girls.

Girls are often the ones responsible for fetching water, and girls do the cooking and cleaning, so they need water for their chores. When they go on long walks to fetch water alone, they are at risk of being attacked. And finally, when a girl hits puberty, she needs access to a bathroom at school.

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Q: HOW FAR DO CHILDREN REALLY WALK?

A: It depends on where they are.

To get the best understanding of how far children and families are from the nearest water source, we asked them. This is what we found–and it turns out, fetching water is no walk in the park.

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