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WVW: Water, Vaccine, and Work

Children are vulnerable in their first five years, especially babies younger than one-year-old who haven't developed sufficient immune system, so secured and safe vaccination is the first key to children’s health and physical development. Also, having access to safe clean drinking water helps children’s health, and also frees women and girls from the daily task of collecting water, so that they can have more time and capacity to look after young children for their better cognitive and social development. The last key is work-at-home opportunities. Children need vaccination, water, and nutrition. Transformation these needs into business opportunities to empower stay-at-home mothers will be a great support for children and their families.

Photo of Irene Yen-Hsuan Shih
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There are 3 key findings from our research: 

1. Barriers to secured and safe vaccination

Dr. Mike’s story

Mike is a doctor and spends much of his time working in Africa. Recently, Dr. Mike’s granddaughter who lives in the UK, was vaccinated against 10 diseases. In Africa 1 in 5 children die before their 5th birthday due to preventable diseases.(*1) A child in Africa is lucky if they receive half the immunizations available in the UK. Pneumonia is the greatest killer of under-fives responsible for one in five deaths but children are not vaccinated against it in Africa.
The diseases that kill rotavirus and meningitis are other examples are preventable and the vaccines exist, but why aren’t they getting to the children who need them? One reason is the cost, but an even more limiting factor is access. Distances are great, roads are bad, and electricity is unreliable and too often unavailable. We need a new way of reaching out to kids.  
Traditional methods of vaccinating children rely on refrigeration and ice production to transport and store the vaccines, utilizing the so called cold chain. Children must be brought to the clinic. This typically requires a full day or even more for a family member. The cold chain needs electricity. Clinics have unreliable or non-existent electricity, and it is not uncommon for immunizations to run out. This adds to the reasons why so many families think twice about taking the time to take their children for immunizations.   

“How can we break down the barriers between life-saving vaccination and new-born babies?"


2. Lack of access to clean drinking water 

Messages from Oyamo Island & Awasi, Kenya 

Oyamo Island is an isolated island with 2,000 - 3000 population in the centre of Lake Victoria. They have a dispensary equipped with solar panel to restore vaccines and medicines - if the vaccine can be safely transported to the island from mainland by boat. They also have a primary school with lovely children and hard-working teachers, who fetch water from the lake to drink everyday. There is no surface water on Oyamo Island, and water treatment methods like chlorine tablets or ceramic filters also need to be transported by boat. A doctor from Oyamo Dispensary says: "We have been waiting for new solutions for a long time, especially for our new born babies."   

Water is the key for the health of children and their communities. Also, in the communities, it is always women’s duty to collect water and look after children. 

Awasi is a settlement in Kenya's Nyanza Province. A typical mother in Awasi starts the steep and rocky journey back home, carrying a 20 litre bucket. She will do this at least four times per day. Mothers in Awasi faces two major challenges every day, costing her the most time and money.(*2) These include collection of water and keeping herself and her family healthy. Mothers will have more time and capacity to look after young children if they are freed from the daily task of collecting water. Moreover, young children can thrive if they have safe clean drinking water. The whole community benefits not just the children.  
“How can we provide every family with access to safe clean drinking water?”


3. In Need of work-at-home opportunities

Voices from Mothers of Kenya

We interviewed a mother of three in Kisumu, Kenya. She introduced her children: two of them are primary school students, and the youngest one is only three years old. She needs to look after the youngest, fetch water, take care of vegetables and chickens, and cook for her family everyday. “I want my children go to school. I want them to become somebody. I want to work so that I can give my family better support, but I have to stay at home, “ she said. “I need to take care of the youngest child.”

We also met Madame Addah, the administrator of Omen Feeding Centre. Omen Feeding Centre feeds approximately 75 orphaned and vulnerable children, and aims to provide them with a better life. Orphans are five times more likely to die under the age of five than children with two parents and the HIV epidemic has created thousands of orphans in this area. Omen Feeding is located in Muhoroni District in greater Nyando, Kenya. This area has an estimated population of 50,000 people.(*3) Most people live below the poverty line on less than one us dollar a day, and are unable to provide children with basic needs, such as nutritious food. Orphans are fostered and the foster parents are given support to clothe and educate the children, but ensuring one good nutritious meal a day is key to the mental and physical development of all children.
In addition to Madame Addah, there are  8 dedicated and passionate volunteer staff to look after the kids in Omen Feeding Centre. They have come up with great solutions like The Chicken Project, The Green House Farming Project, and The Open Air Farming Project. Take The Chicken Project for instance, they can supply children with nutritious chicken and fresh eggs by renovating the coop house, purchasing layers and their feeds, and giving chickens vaccines in time as required. However, they are still in search of better ways to improve The Green House Farming Project and The Open Air Farming Project, so that they can have a consistent supply of vegetables and fruits and sell surpluses in the nearby city of Kisumu to generate income. 
There are many ingenious successful stories that have been done by great career women in Kenya, but how do we share the know-how of these successful stories with stay-at-home mothers?  
“How can we empower mothers who have young children with work-at-home job opportunities? “   

*Updated on 2014/10/22

Thank you very much for those who left you valuable comments, to help us to shape our idea better together. This is a clip frorm our interviews with mothers, fathers, teachers, and NGO workers in the field. They are great pioneers who inspire their communities.

In conclusion, we've defined that the key problems are: vaccine, water, and work, and we as a team are ready to tackle these problems together, so, please join us and share your ideas with us! Asante sana! 
Special Thanks: 

OGRA Foundation & Bush Hospital Foundation in Kenya. 

Team Members: 

Dr. Michael Marks 
Medical Specialist with expertise and experience in developing world. He was awarded an MBE in the Queens’ Honours list in 2008 for services to establishing primary health care in Africa. 

Fredah Ajowi 
Senior Project Officer at OGRA Foundation, in Kisumu, Kenya. She is a great educator, an intelligent expert in health and wellness, and a loving mother of four as well. 

Susannah Leaf
Medical Doctor. She is currently working in Kenya as the Director of access:health Project Mwezi: an innovative design of a cloth re-usable sanitary towel to provide training and health education on a sustainable solution

Irene Yen-Hsuan Shih
Service & Product Designer with practical experience of system design in Africa. She is the Design Director of Innovating Water: a solar-UV water treatment systems to provide Kenyan school children with safe clean drinking water and relevant educational programmes.  



(*2) Research from A Bush Hospital Foundation Project by Susannah Leaf

(*3) Research and information provided by staff from local NGOs



Join the conversation:

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Amazing idea, really tackles 3 of the most important issues of the problem. Especially vaccination and drinking water, have a major impact in both the children development, as well as, the time that parents can give for their families. Have you thought about the use of technology in tackling such an issue?

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