Revolutionizing the Student Experience Across the City: Celebrating a year of working in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Splash
4 min readJul 12, 2023

Last year, Splash expanded to a second city in Ethiopia, Bahir Dar. In collaboration with local governments and partners, we will reach more than 85,000 students with clean water, handwashing facilities, child-friendly toilets, and health and hygiene education.

Zeke, a student at Mesenado Preparatory School in Bahir Dar, smiles next to new Splash drinking water stations

By mid-2024, we aim to install water filters, drinking and handwashing stations, provide child-friendly bathroom facilities, help students build healthy habits around hygiene, and empower girls to manage their own menstrual health. During this time, Splash and our project partners will equip schools and government agencies to independently own and manage all improvements and programming from 2024 and beyond. Our goal is for students across the city to stay as safe and healthy as possible for years to come and set a new standard for schools in the region.

Together, Splash and partners have agreed to contribute more than 400,000,000 ETB (approximately $7.4M USD) to benefit an estimated 85,630 students, teachers, and administrative staff at all 56 public schools in Bahir Dar and the surrounding areas. This will cover 70% of the initial project cost, which Splash raised from institutional and individual donors around the world.

To find out how you can get involved in supporting Splash’s next endeavors, click here!

Success in Bahir Dar will lay out a national roadmap for improved water, sanitation, and hygiene at schools across the country — a goal Splash has been working toward in Ethiopia and beyond.

Students use Splash handwashing stations at Dilchibo Primary School

In October 2022 at the Jacaranda Hotel, the formal launch event for Splash in Bahir Dar celebrated months of collaborative planning, the completion of pilot projects at three schools, and the formal signing of the project agreement. The event brought together representatives from Splash, partner NGOs, local schools, the Bahir Dar mayor’s office, and Amhara regional state bureaus of finance, education, health, and water and energy to celebrate the kickoff.

One of Splash’s key goals is to ensure local government buy-in. Amhara National Regional State Water & Energy Bureau Head Dr. Mamaru Ayalew believes that Splash’s participatory approach and sustainable management of water and sanitation will have a positive long-term impact on the children and staff in local schools.

Mulat Teklemariam, principal of Dilchibo Primary School, shared that his school had a water shortage and lacked sufficient drinking and handwashing stations. Now, after Splash, the school has enough drinking and handwashing stations to serve a school of this size. Students don’t need to go to class thirsty or skip washing their hands before eating or after using the toilet.

Furthermore, when the city’s water supply is not sufficient, schools like Dilchibo Primary School now have water storage tanks to bring additional water to the nearby community as needed. Splash installed 20,000 liters of water storage so students never go without.

Water storage tanks at Dilchibo Primary School

As part of the program, school administrators, teachers, janitors, hygiene club members, and maintenance technicians all received tailored training to ensure they can maintain the new WASH facilities and promote good health and hygiene practices. Mulat is excited and ready to take the reins for his school.

Launch event attendees visited Meskerem 16 Primary School. They were excited to see how Splash addresses the entire school environment: water supply, sanitation, behavior change, and sustainable management activities. The school directors, focal teachers, and hygiene club members shared their excitement for the activities performed so far and their plans for the ongoing management and use of the new facilities. Club members shared songs and poems about hygiene that are designed to strengthen a culture that celebrates good health. One of the songs they sing goes like this:

“Let us wash our hands to be healthy and clean; and to prevent ourselves from diarrheal and COVID disease; let us always remember to wash our hands with soap frequently.”

And part of the poem presented by one of the focal teacher,

“Providing toilet with shower / handwashing stations and clean water;
For the good deeds that Splash do / we don’t have any word but thank you!”

Splash collaborates with each school to develop a tailored project that addresses their specific WASH needs — including digging new wells for schools not connected to the municipal water supply:

Our goal is universal: healthy schools and healthy kids. The launch event was a celebration of the collaboration between Splash, the government, and partners and a symbol of the excitement for this grand undertaking in the years ahead: revolutionizing the student experience across the entire city.

Learn more about Splash’s work in Ethiopia and beyond here.

For background information on the crisis that has been affecting Amhara and communities like Bahir Dar, please see this resource.

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Splash

Clean water, clean hands, clean toilets, and menstrual health support for kids in urban poverty — co-developed with local governments.