Football for Water

Contaminated drinking water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene are an urgent health problem. Together they form the leading cause of preventable diseases, like diarrhoea, that kills 1.5 million children every year.

Many primary schools in developing countries have very poor sanitation. Due to inadequate water supplies, deteriorated or insufficient sanitation facilities and a lack of knowledge about hygiene, many children’s water access is limited to quenching their thirst or washing their hands before meals and after a toilet visit. Girls face special difficulties in hygiene practices during their menstruation. Under these conditions schools become unsafe places where diseases are easily transmitted and the health and academic performance of pupils is affected. Increased absenteeism and school drop-out rates damage the future prospects of young people and their families.

continue to objectives

Overall objective

Improve the health situation of primary school children and their families in Kenya and Ghana, by providing access to water and sanitation facilities in combination with education on life skills and proper hygiene behaviour.

Specific objectives

  1. Improved access to water and sanitation facilities;
  2. Increased awareness about hygiene behaviour.


continue to approach

The Football for Water (F4W) programme is a Public Private Partnership between the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector and the world of football.

This programme uses the power of football to teach boys and girls about life skills related to hand washing, clean drinking water and improved sanitation. The combination of football-based life skills education with integrated WASH solutions improves their living conditions and results in behavioural change.

Simavi’s activities

Simavi’s approach focuses on WASH in schools with community outreach to change the WASH practices of the whole community. The FIETS principles are applied to these activities to achieve sustainable change. Our activities include:

  • Establishing WASH infrastructure (hardware) in schools, e.g. gender-specific toilets;
  • Implementing Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in school neighbourhoods;
  • Training Community Health Workers (CHWs) to raise awareness of WASH in family homes and via community meetings;
  • Organising WASH social infrastructure (software) in terms of governance, establishing school health clubs and the behavioural change programme;
  • Training school management committees and subcommittees to maintain WASH facilities;
  • Engaging local government partners to ensure they fulfil their roles and responsibilities.

Special attention is placed on the needs of girls in this programme. They are empowered by establishing their participation in football and hygiene training and the construction of gender-friendly sanitation facilities. This enables more girls to go to school and miss fewer classes during menstruation.

continue to result

Expectations regarding this programme have been achieved. However, the Football for Water (F4W) programme has been running from before 2014. At this time, setting targets and aligning Simavi’s and F4W’s monitoring systems was still a quite challenge:

  • Programmes created before 2016 had to report on common Simavi indicators on common Simavi indicators, which were not set for programmes such as F4W. This led to inconsistencies when setting targets and to capturing only part of the programme realisations. (ex: indicator 1001 counts members of community group trained – F4W is a school programme, therefore, pupils trained were not counted as community members).
  • At the time the F4W programme was designed, targets were not rigorously verified and adapted yearly. The inconsistencies in targets and appearing low results were then accumulated from 2014.

You can find a complete programme results overview of 2016 here.


Situation Approach Result

Programme information

  • Simavi Budget

    € 1.288 million

  • Overal Budget

    € 27 million

  • 4 years

  • Location

    Ghana: Tamale Metro, Sagnarigu and , Karaga districts. Kenya: Kisumu, Kakamega.

  • Target groups

    1) Boys and girls at primary schools; 2) Local communities; 3) Local governments and local entrepreneurs.

  • Alliance partners

    KNVB, Vitens-Evides International (VEI), Simavi, Unicef The Netherlands, Aqua for All and Akvo.

  • Implementing partners

    New Energy Ghana, SANA Kenya, CABDA Kenya.

  • Donors

    Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the partners of the Football for Water consortium.

  • Role of Simavi

    Implementing project partner.

Do you want to know more about Football for Water?

Please contact our colleague Martine Jeths.
+31 (0)88 313 15 83

3 Questions

Christine (12) lives with her brother Joseph and grandmother Consolata in Kakamega county, Kenya. She is a good student and loves to learn. She wants to become a nurse when she grows up.


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