I’ve realised recently that over the years we haven’t been great at shouting about our collective achievements in improving the lives of children and their families far beyond the individual projects which you’re making possible.
As you know, we invest in taps, toilets and training to address immediate and severe need in the communities we work with. However, we know that in the long run it is local government, local business and local leaders who will ultimately overcome the water and sanitation crisis – and our job is to help them dramatically speed up this process. This is why we ensure that everything we do works towards strengthening local systems and institutions to ensure that our impact will be sustained and built upon in the long term.
The problem is that ‘strengthening local systems and institution’ can sound pretty technocratic and dull. It’s also difficult to sum up with a good photo or video, which all means we don’t often end up talking about this aspect of our work. But this is really, really important - so let me give you one rather topical example of what this means in practice:
Sanitary pads for all
As you have (hopefully) noticed over the last few weeks, we have put a renewed emphasis on our work supporting women and girls in overcoming the challenges they face related to menstrual health. We actually started this work back in 2014 and quickly realised that 1) a key problem was that school girls didn’t have access to sanitary products and 2) this wasn’t a problem we could solve easily at the local level.
Given this, our Kenyan team threw their weight behind lobbying the national government to provide sanitary pads for free in schools, using our local experience to make the case at a national level. This led to our team forming part of the small coalition that met with Kenya’s first lady in 2017 – and within a few weeks this headline was making international news…
This was a really important first step, that is now improving the lives of school girls across the country. However, we have already found that the supply of sanitary pads alone doesn’t automatically lead to them being used. This is why we have this year redesigned and begun rolling out our new school menstrual hygiene education programme in Bomet county. Again, we haven’t done this in isolation, but in partnership with the county government who have fully endorsed and supported the programme. More testing and refinement is needed, but there is the opportunity here in the coming years for this curriculum to be taken on by all schools across Bomet County and beyond.
This is just one example. Others include the fact that our toilet design innovations have been formally adopted and funded by the Kenyan Government's Constituency Development Fund (CDF), which is now sending delegations from other counties to learn from our work. Or that the community rain water harvesting systems we’ve invested in over the years are now proving their sustainability compared to the boreholes normally invested in by government and NGOs, leading to greater uptake of this sustainable technology.
Our team is punching well above its weight, working from the bottom up to directly help people on the ground whilst strengthening County and National policy. Our ‘theory of change’ (which is basically our master plan for achieving these wider objectives) is summed up in this handy infographic. This shows our interventions on the outside and then, as you move to the centre, our intended outputs, outcomes and impact.
This vital, long term work is of course only possible because of your long term, ongoing support. So on behalf of the team and everyone who’s lives have been changed directly and (just as importantly) indirectly by your support, thank you.
Update on the UK team
It’s a happy/sad time in the UK office.
Jessica, who began volunteering for the charity back in 2011, has now moved to take on a new fundraising role. Over the years Jessica has volunteered and worked for the charity in both the UK and Kenya, and none of our work would have been possible without her years of dedication, hard work and relentless positivity.
Nina, who has been our Fundraising Support Officer this year, will also be moving on to a new adventure in Australia(!). Nina has done a brilliant job this year supporting and inspiring our challenge event fundraisers. We wish them both the very best.
We are now delighted to welcome to the team…
Whilst completing her degree in Human Geography, Harriet climbed Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya for Dig Deep with most of her fundraising being done with the help of her family through social events, often orientating around food.
Harriet is just finishing off a Masters in International Relations.
She loves reading and hiking, and having a good old chin wag which will serve her well in her new role.
Ela has climbed both Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya and run a series of UK based races for Dig Deep, alongside studying a Masters in International Development.
Ela is really excited to now have the chance to support others in taking on our amazing challenges by passing on all her experience.
In her spare time Ela likes to run and visit as many new places as possible (usually taking part in a race in whatever new place she's visiting).
Thank you for your continued support, we will be in touch again soon to update you on our latest news and events.