Simple way to purify water promotes better health in Kenya

In the urban compound of Menno Kids Academy, in an impoverished area of Nairobi, Kenya, tables of clear, plastic bottles fill the courtyard — a simple but powerful tool in a fight for better health.
Through the day, the sun's ultra­violet rays soak into the bottles of water, killing bacteria, viruses and parasites such as giar­dia and providing the gift of clean water to the school's nearly 500 pupils.

Mennonite Central Committee-supported teachings in solar disinfection — a low-cost method of purifying water — and also in sanitation and hygiene are changing lives not only for students but also for their families.

"I could not believe that water can be treated in such a simple way," Morris Ndalila remembers thinking.

Ndalila, a father of seven, had long known the water coming from his tap was contaminated and unfit to drink. Yet he could not afford to buy water or the fuel needed to boil enough water for his large family.

"We always suffered from diarrhea; children complained of stomach pains, and their skin was always having ringworms," Ndalila remembers. Whatever money he could save seemed to go for treatment at the local health center.

Today, Ndalila's family is rarely ill — a change he attributes to solar disinfection, plus training in handwashing, hygiene and sanitation.

Each year, MCC's Global Family education program provides funding for teacher stipends, educational supplies, nutritious food and other needed items for Menno Kids Academy and Mukuru Menno Academy, schools run by Kenyan Mennonite congregations.

And it was because of this relationship that MCC and a partner organization, The Water School, began water, sanitation and hygiene projects with the two schools.

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