The Smart Water for Green Schools (SWGS) project was launched in the Volta region of Ghana in February 2010. Since then, it has expanded to around 70 water-scarce communities in Ghana, Bolivia, Argentina, China, Ivory Coast and Ukraine.
SWGS provides safe drinking water, sanitation and environmental and health education to children and their local communities in river basins that stretch across boundaries and borders of different communities and countries.
SWGS consists of four main components, which are adapted and tailored to suit the project environment:
Rainwater harvesting systems;
SWGS builds reliable and long-lasting rainwater harvesting systems and ensures maintenance by training local community engineers. School children and community members monitor, treat and use the captured water for drinking and washing hands, stimulating community interest in managing the water systems. Harvested rainwater is a good supplement to other water supplies, thereby relieving pressure on existing sources. It also acts as a buffer supply in times of emergency and can reduce erosion and flooding.
Ecological sanitation facilities;
Smart Water for Green Schools constructs ecological latrines in schools. The system contributes to better public health, while increasing agricultural productivity and reducing wastewater pollution. Having individual toilets also improves comfort and privacy for students and teachers. For this reason, ecological latrines can help encourage more children to go to school, while reducing gender inequalities.
Installing other water systems for the extended community.
Villages selected for the Smart Water for Green Schools project usually depend on existing boreholes and wells for their water supply. Where these do not exist or when availability diminishes during the dry season, communities rely on local streams and rivers. To secure safe water supplies for school children and their communities, the Smart Water project refurbishes existing systems or equips villages with new boreholes and wells.
Smart Water for Green Schools develops educational programmes to train teachers and community members on hygiene, sanitation and environmental awareness, who can then pass on their knowledge to students, friends and relatives. The educational programme includes conducting cross-cultural exchanges among schools sharing the same river basins and developing rainwater measurement and monitoring systems for children, and organizing school trips to neighboring rivers to monitor water quality.