WaterAid launches animation to highlight how a lack of clean water keeps girls out of school

WaterAid has launched a new animation calling out the impact a lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities has on girls’ education in Nepal and around the world.  

The animation, titled ‘The girl who turned to water’, depicts girls in a classroom who wash away as water themselves to symbolise how having to walk to collect water keeps them from school. The animation is aimed at highlighting the inequality caused by a lack of access to clean water, while also raising money for the international charity’s Thirst for Knowledge appeal to help girls build a better future. 

Globally, 771 million people – that’s one in ten – have no clean water close to home. The animation is based on the experiences of one such person – 14-year-old schoolgirl Pabina, from Lahan, South Eastern Nepal, whilst simultaneously showing the global issue of access to clean water and sanitation across the world.   

Nepal’s extreme landscapes, earthquakes and changing climate all contribute to making it difficult to reach people with vital facilities. The water in Pubina’s school is yellow and dirty, and there’s only one toilet block, which the headteacher says is in a ‘critical’ condition, meaning most children relieve themselves in the fields. Many girls skip school when on their period due to the lack of facilities.  

Pabina explains: 

“The school should have clean drinking water, a toilet, and a place to change pads during menstruation. Girls like me have to go to school to study and to achieve things in the future. If we don’t go to school, it will affect our future negatively since we can’t do as many things that others can.” 

Through its appeal, WaterAid will help bring clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to schools and homes in Nepal and around the world, transforming the lives of tens of thousands of people like Pabina. The UK government will match public donations made between 16 November 2021 and 15 February 2022 up to £2 million, helping bring these vital facilities to 28,000 people and 30 schools in the Bardiya district of Nepal. 

The animation was created in collaboration with BAFTA winning animation studio Second Homes Studios, and the music is a track by US-based Nepali musician Ankit Shrestha called Eutai Aakash, meaning One Sky.  

Tadg O’Keeffe, Film Producer at WaterAid, said: 

“A third of schools are without clean water and sanitation facilities, affecting the opportunities of millions of people. The issue is especially acute for girls, with many skipping school during their period if there are no decent toilets, while women and girls collect water in 4 out of 5 households, often keeping them from getting an education or earning a living. 

“By basing the film on Pabina, we were able to create a thought-provoking film that brought to life the issues faced by so many girls around the world.  

“With access to clean water, toilets and soap in schools, barriers can be taken down to ensure girls can complete their education and build a better future for themselves and their families” 

WaterAid’s appeal will help construct new, sustainable school water systems, decent toilets, and drinking water stations with handwashing facilities, enabling children to easily wash, drink and go to the toilet without missing lessons. Provision will be made for girls to manage their periods safely and hygienically, so they no longer worry about missing out on their education or fetching water. 

Find out more and donate at wateraid.org/uk/thirst-for-knowledge

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