‘Soap in Schools’ Program Launches in Kenya

Thanks to the generous support of the Starwood Foundation, Clean the World recently launched a nine-month hygiene education program in a network of 12 schools across Kenya. The program serves more than 4,000 primary school children who live in extreme poverty in either urban slums or rural villages.

Clean the World managing director Sam Stephens with Kenyan students.
Clean the World managing director Sam Stephens with Kenyan students.

Unlike most of our international work, which we conduct through existing programs operated by other NGO partners, the Soap in Schools program is different. This time, we’ve designed and launched the program ourselves, and will engage other partners as necessary to accomplish our goals. The first steps were to identify the target population, conduct a baseline study to determine the “starting point” for measuring success going forward, design the hygiene education program to be implemented in schools, and train teachers to implement the programming.

Sam Stephens, managing director of Clean the World Foundation, traveled to Kenya in early March to conduct the baseline study and teacher training. Since then and through the end of 2016, ongoing hand-washing classes will teach the children how, when, and why to wash their hands – while also providing them, their families, and their schools with Clean the World soap.

The results of the baseline study showed an even greater need than we expected:

• Nearly 70 percent of the children suffered from a hygiene-related illness (diarrhea or pneumonia) in the previous month
• 80 percent had a hygiene-related skin infection during that time
• Nearly 40 percent had missed four or more days of school in the previous month as a result of these conditions

Our goal is to make these kids healthier and, therefore, help them attend school more often so they can receive the education they need to break the cycle of poverty.

Now that our hand-washing education and soap distribution are underway, we should see these problems getting much better in the coming weeks and months. We will measure our impact and progress every 90 days, so expect an update in June.

This outreach in Kenya is the first of many new Clean the World programs. We are about to launch a similar program in Tanzania. It’s a very exciting development, and it marks a big step forward in our mission to eradicate the top two killers of children globally.

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