Student Area

Introduction: Human Need for Water


Background Information

"International Decade for Action: Water for life 2005-2015."

The United Nations has declared 2008 to be the International Year of Sanitation. They produced a document to explain the push for humanitarian work needed "to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015 and to stop unsustainable exploitation of water resources. At the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, two other goals were adopted: to aim to develop integrated water resource management and water efficiency plans by 2005 and to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people who do not have access to basic sanitation." (UN-Water)

Water for Kids is a program started by David Clapham, Natasha Franklin and Stewart Petrie in 1996. They focused on children because they knew if the kids had water, so would everyone else in the villages. Poor water sources in underdeveloped countries pose many layers of health issues to the people. When water sources do not drain properly, they attract mosquitoes. The female mosquitoes carry malaria (mala aria - bad air). When the bugs feed on the people they can pass the malaria to them. Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites that multiply in the red blood cells.

Drainage is important and so is clean water for the over health of all people. Water sources are not always nearby. Sources have been known to dry up and even become contaminated. When this happens, the people must find other sources. New sources may not be close.

The basic fact that villagers and mostly women spend most of their day carrying water on their head from resources far away is a huge issue. Some walk up to ten miles a day just for water for their families. This area is rich with design opportunities beyond the most obvious one that people need clean water. Transporting water can be just as much of a hassle as finding the source.

This module has been designed to expose students to the need for clean water and the issues related to contaminated water. Another goal of the module is to affect the students in such a way that they care more than they did before about not wasting water and contaminating it unnecessarily.

Each role-playing activity would probably work best if the teacher took the time to assign roles according to student ability. You don't want extremely capable students doing some easy task and getting bored and causing trouble. You don't want a lesser capable student taking on too much and experiencing failure or getting overwhelmed and ridiculed by their peers.


Write a class letter of introduction and share with other participating schools by posting to Collaboration Central. Things to inlcude in the letter of introduction are:

  • Name of school, subject, and grade level of class.
  • Location of school including city, state/province, country, latitude and longitude (so other students can pin-point your location on the map).
  • What are school's strengths?
  • What are school's weaknesses?
  • What technological resources are available?
  • What can your school most contribute to this effort?
  • What are your goals and expectations in participating in this collaborative effort?
  • What do you wish to learn from this first meeting?
  • Any other information that you would like to share about your city, school, and community.