Malamlela Primary School girl washing her hands

Climate change is a global challenge and needs global solutions which begin with local actions.   Like other developing countries, Swaziland has prioritised climate change adaptation to ensure coping of communities against vulnerabilities in the water sector. One of these is water scarcity in most rural schools in the country. Pupils are requested to either bring water from rivers, shared with livestock or walk for kilometres every day during lesson time to collect water in a nearby river to be used for the school agriculture lessons, feeding programme and for sanitation purposes. This disrupts lessons and eats into time pupils should be using to learn. The little water is also rationed, resulting in some basic necessities, such as ‘washing hands after using the toilet’, not being prioritised. 

Highlights

  • The project which started in 2012 has facilitated installation of 43 tanks with storage capacity of 350,000 litres in 10 rural schools benefiting 3,247 students and 136 teaching staff.
  • Since 2012 however Timphisini pupils have been assisted with an integrated rainwater harvesting technology.

Thanks to UNDP that Swaziland is cementing its climate-proof development through the National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan for 2014 to 2019 for CCA in vulnerable rural school communities. The GEF Special Climate Change Fund has facilitated integration of climate change issues into the education sector. The project which started in 2012 has facilitated installation of 43 tanks with storage capacity of 350,000 litres in 10 rural schools benefiting 3,247 students and 136 teaching staff.  

Timphisini High School in the northern Hhohho region of Swaziland has an enrolment of 1 254 pupils and employs 52 teachers. Lack of water has been a serious problem for the school in the past, despite the existence of a borehole. Since 2012 however Timphisini pupils have been assisted with an integrated rainwater harvesting technology. The Deputy Headteacher, Mr Gcinumuzi Dlamini, confirming the improvement of water availability in the school, said that, “with the onset of 2013 and in 2014, we have not had any water shortages in the school”. The load has also been lightened for the school cooks and caregivers as they also use the stored water in ensuring that some pupils have that, one daily meal through the Government’s School Meal Programme. Of importance is sustaining the water conservation as an adaptation practices amongst the school going pupils in the country. “We are also learning how to use the little water wisely and conserve it. We use the same water for washing dishes and after the school lunch to water the school garden,” he went on.

While the Climate Change Adaptation project is piloting this technique in 10 schools which were identified by the Ministry of Education and River Basin Authorities, further awareness creation and upscaling into other school communities is promoted through the Ministry of Education and the Department of Water Affairs. The availability of water in the schools has been the best demonstration for surrounding school communities and households to adopt. The Ministry of Education National Curriculum Centre has agreed to review the primary school national curriculum to integrate climate change.