It Starts With Clean Water
In one of Tanzania's rural Massai villages, our team learns that awareness is only one piece of the puzzle in keeping kids healthy.
As part of the preparation leading up to this challenge, an IDEO.org team spent two weeks in Tanzania, exploring the gaps and opportunities in supporting children to survive and thrive in their first five years. Tanzania has a rich cultural heritage that includes hundreds of individual tribes, and as we saw during our research, the challenges facing parents in raising young children are as diverse as the country’s many communities.
A community meeting in Monduli.
A household (Boma) in Monduli sits atop a mountain.
Monduli is a mountainous, extremely rural community about an hour from Arusha, Tanzania. Massai communities have lived in this part of the country for generations. On our team’s first week in Arusha, we headed to Monduli to visit with parents and learn more about what it’s like to raise young children in this rural setting.
Thanks in part to the efforts of the Monduli Pastoralist Development Initiative and other NGOs in the area, we found that many parents not only recognized the importance of investing in their children’s health and wellbeing, but were well-informed about the resources available to them (ie the closest health clinic).
In a community that is distributed across a set of barren peaks with little formal infrastructure to speak of, this level of awareness was impressive. All of these parents went to the clinic during pregnancy, sent their children to preschool and were invested in their success. So, when we asked about the biggest challenge they face, our team was surprised by how basic it was: lack of clean drinking water.
“Our only option here is to use the same water source that the cows use,” said one father. Others echoed his concern, citing typhoid and other illnesses that had kept children ill and out of school over the years.
This conversation in Monduli led our team to an insight about how crucial “the basics” really are, and how they enable—or inhibit—progress in other areas. The fact is, limited or no access to clean water prevents children from thriving even when parents are investing time in all other areas. And, no one family on their own can solve the clean water deficit—the resources for a water point aren't readily available. Knowing their children need clean water doesn't enable parents to provide it in a resource-scarce area like Monduli.
As we move towards designing solutions to this challenge, one thing we'll want to keep in mind is...
How might we help parents reduce their children's risk of waterborne illness and disease?