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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Clean Water and Quality of Life

Africa, Cameroon
Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Environment, Health, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies & Geography

This lesson explores the importance of protecting sources of clean drinking water. Through a narrated slide show, Peace Corps volunteer Lauren Fry shares her story about building a springbox to protect a groundwater supply in Cameroon. Students will synthesize information from the slide show, examine additional photographs depicting water access issues in Africa, and discuss the connection between clean water and quality of life. After discussing Lauren's story, choose from the suggested math and science activities to extend students' learning.

Water and human health

More about Cameroon


  • Students will describe the connection between clean water and human health
  • Students will identify groundwater as an important source of water on earth
  • Students will explain possible causes of, effects of, and solutions to groundwater contamination. 


  1. Discuss in small groups or as a class:
    • Why is water necessary for our survival?
    • Where do we get our water? What are other sources of water people use? [surface water (lakes and rivers) or groundwater]
    • How might water become unsafe for people to use?
  2. Locate Cameroon on a map or globe, and discuss students' prior knowledge of the region. Provide some information about the culture and geography of Cameroon (see Background Information above).
  3. Identify Lauren Fry as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Cameroon. View Lauren's slide show Water Source Protection, which discusses how she worked with her community to prevent water contamination.
  4. Check for understanding by discussing:
    • Where did people in Lauren's community in Cameroon get their water? [from a groundwater spring]
    • What was the problem with the water? [Contaminants like human and animal waste were polluting it; people were getting sick]
    • What did Lauren and her community do to solve this problem? [Built a springbox to cover the spring so pollutants from above ground could not enter the groundwater. It also stored clean water for people's daily use.]
    • How did the springbox project impact the health of the community? [When they drank water protected by the springbox, fewer people got sick].
  5. Have students imagine what their lives would be like without consistent access to clean water at school and home. Consider using photos from Water in Africa to illustrate, such as:
    • Brushing teeth at a wash station in Tanzania
    • Gathering water at the town pump in Benin
    • Washing dishes at school in Lesotho
    • Carrying water from the river in Mali
    • Taking a bucket bath in Ghana

Ask students to think about: How might you use your time differently than you do now? What might your health concerns be? Then have them discuss or write about the connection between clean water and quality of life

Frameworks & Standards

Enduring Understandings

  • Access to clean water is essential to human health.
  • Protecting water sources has important implications for a community's health.
  • Underground aquifers serve as critical sources of water for many communities worldwide.
Essential Questions
  • How does access to clean water vary across communities?
  • How does access to clean water relate to public health issues?
  • What can people do to protect water resources?


Specific content standards addressed will vary with the math and science extension activities chosen. Overarching content standards include:

National Science Education Standards

  • Content Standard E: Science and Technology
    • Abilities of technological design
  • Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    • Personal health
    • Science and technology in local challenges

U.S. National Geography Standards

  • Essential Element V: Environment and Society
    • How physical systems affect human systems

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

  • Thematic Strand III: People, Places, and Environments
    • Influences of natural resources on human populations

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

  • Speaking and Listening
    • Comprehension and Collaboration: Analyze main ideas presented in diverse media; Identify claims supported by evidence
  • Literacy in History/Social Studies
    • Key Ideas and Details: Determine the central ideas of a primary source  



  • Build a Model Springbox. Students use simple materials to construct small-scale springboxes, and make recommendations for improving their functionality.


  • Community Health Data Analysis. Examine the data that Lauren collected. Does the data provide evidence that the springbox may have helped to improve community health?
  • Water Availability and Usage. Explore the numerical relationships between water supply (liters of water filtered per day) and demand (liters of water needed by the community).  
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