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Water and Sanitation for All: Bringing the Issue Home

Grades 9-12



Water and Sanitation for All is a unit of three lessons designed to raise awareness of the problems facing children with inadequate access to clean water or sanitation and provide insight into the ways in which people and agencies are working to resolve these issues and encourage students to take their own steps in addressing the local and global issues of water and sanitation.

In Lesson One, students learn about various aspects of the water and sanitation crisis using UNICEF data and multimedia.

In lesson two, discuss water and sanitation issues in the United States and compare them to other places in the world.

In lesson three, students are presented with examples of how to take action within their community. In small groups students then brainstorms action ideas and each student designs their own plan of action.

Students will

  • analyse a series of handouts on sanitation and water access in today's world.
  • Discuss approaches to addressing the problem both locally and globally.
  • watch a video of people carrying water long distances in New York in solidarity with other people throughout the world.



General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

This resource promotes presentation skills.


The video is a novel idea to show how a community can make a statement.

The statistics about water access are interesting.

There is a wealth of background information for the teachers with many web links with the most recent information.

Activities are clearly indicated.

Package was updated in 2010 with many online sources.


Examples from Canada would make this activity much more useful.

The last activity is missing implementation details to guide the  community action plan.

There are no assessment tools provided.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Century: Natural Resources
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Food Supply: Production and Distribution
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Issues 120: Humanity
        • World Issues 120:Interdependence
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Geography:Resources and Commodities
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep) : Ecological Systems: Interactions and Interdependence
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Geographic Inquiry and Skill Development
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.) Geographic Inquiry and Skill Development
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 621A Global Issues : Inquiry- What are the issues?
        • Geography 631A Global Issues: What are the issues?
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
        • Social Studies 20: World Issues - Population
        • Social Studies 20: World Issues -Human Rights

Themes Addressed

Human Health & Environment (1)

  • Health Promotion

Human Rights (1)

  • Environmental Racism/Justice

Water (2)

  • Water Quality
  • Water Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Provides a very clear picture of how easily water access and sanitation is so effortless for us and why it is so difficult for others.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

This activity deals more with the social dimensions (health and accessibility) than with the economic and environmental dimensions.  The economic cost of proper sanitation is not discussed but could be easily covered during the last activity. Environmental issues such as the role of healthy watersheds in supplying clean water can easily be expanded on during the last activity.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

Students have time to read, absorb, discuss in small groups and present to the class. Many of these issues can be distributing but these activities provide time for students understand the complexity of the problem.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

On-line videos (Showed people walking long distances carrying water in solidarity with people from around the globe) are given as examples of how people can raise awareness about water and sanitation. Students are then given the chance to try and apply this in their community. No specific action examples are given but they are encouraged.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

This activity provides sufficient time for students to express themselves on the issue of hunger.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

Much of the activity helps students to try and understand what it is like for those who do not have easy access to water and sanitation.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Satisfactory

Nothing in this activity provides or encourages direct connections with the earth's supply of water.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

This activity does make connections to the learner but to be more effective the teacher would need to include examples from his/her own community. For example, the video from New York should be supported with reference to a similar activity that happened in Canada.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Poor/Not considered

An excellent sense of the present situation is made very clear. The past is not presented and the future is vague and left up to the students to find solutions.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Yes there are no "right" answers provided and students are given opportunities to express themselves.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

The activity is very strong on social justice. Other disciplines are not explicitly addressed but could be expanded on. For example, different technologies could be explored for bringing clean water to remote places. Art could be used to show possible solutions visually. 

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory

The last activity provides a planning guide for taking action (i.e. they can make their own decisions).  There is no provisions for developing their own questions. 

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Student who do well in group discussions or group work will benefit from this activity. There are no other explicit modifications suggested.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

This is a simulation provided but students are not directly involved with the problem.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students work in groups but no specific skills are taught.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

There is nothing at the end of the activity to capture the essence of the student's work  for evaluation.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

The last activity is meant to be  implemented in the community but there is no set plan for the student to do so. It is let up to the teacher and the students to come up with an approach.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

Case studies are used but are not from Canada. Examples from Canada would make this activity more relevant to students.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

The last activity allows students to choose an action to help address local or global water issues.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.