When I travelled to Uganda with the Ryanís Well Foundation in February 2010, we visited a number of schools where water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) programs had recently been implemented. I could clearly see the impact these programs have on the children in these schools. Their smiling, eager faces told me they were happy to be in school and enjoyed learning. I was also happy to see so many girls in the classroom.

Traditionally, it is often the responsibility of girls to collect water. This time-intensive task often takes them out of the classroom for up to several hours to reach far-away water sources. By providing schools with clean water sources, less time is spent collecting water and more time is spent in the classroom.

It isnít only about access to clean water, though; providing latrines and handwashing stations and promoting hygiene education in the classroom are also important aspects of keeping girls in schools. Access to these kinds of resources increases their safety, provides dignity and helps prevent disease; participating on school water committees empowers girls towards positive change.

With continued school-based WASH projects supported by the Ryanís Well Foundation, more and more girls will spend fewer valuable classroom hours collecting water and wonít be anxious or embarrassed about hygiene issues.