Clean water and sanitation

Evaluating future scenarios

  1. Present to students an unsustainable situation of water use/availability and sanitation. Present three possible improvements to the learners showing impact on related stakeholders
  2. In groups, students think of advantages and disadvantages (possible benefits and/or negative impact) of each option for the various stakeholders.
  3. Groups then decide which option seems best and why, share and defend their choice and present one possible way to reduce and potential disadvantages.
  4. In plenary, discuss the challenges of taking decisions when things are uncertain.

Personal diary method

  1. Individually, ideally over a few days, each student describes his or her own relationship to water, his or her use and what he or she would like to change in his or her practice (professional or private, individually and/or collectively)
  2. In pairs, each person presents some elements of the reflection to their partner
  3. As a whole class, students present key reflections of their partner.
  4. Discuss things that were presented and share thoughts and discuss implications

Select a set of opinion-texts that argue around the question: “Is water a global common good or an economic product?”

Students explain each author’s point of view and then critically analyse it on the basis of scientific sources.

Students discuss which perspective contributes most to guarantee access to water for all and justify their opinion with scientific arguments.

A discussion takes place in plenary around what makes a text a scientific text (difference between fact-based processes in texts that are peer-reviewed vs opinions/perspectives on a question).

Take a decision leading to a more sustainable water management situation within a democratic process:

  1. Set the frame of a situation in which there is a water problem. Each student thinks individually of one possible thing he/she would change to make the situation improve, summarising which stakeholders would be affected by the change.
  2. In groups of 4, the students exchange their ideas and choose one suggested change (consensus).
  3. Each group presents their change-suggestion to the rest of the class, trying to convince them that their idea is the most appropriate. After each group has presented, the three most convincing projects are voted for (majority).
  4. Back in small groups, students think of the best way to combine the three voted solutions.
  5. The results of the discussions are presented in plenary, and either one option is voted for (majority), or elements of all solutions are combined (consensus).
  6. A parallel is made with the solutions implemented “in real life” within the presented situation, or the suggestions made by students can be presented to someone (eg. the local government).

If there is a risk that the students might not be able to think of possible solutions, it is possible to present three possible ways to make situation A evolve to situation B, the students have to choose one for themselves, discuss it in groups of four, present their choice to the class, and vote for one.

World café around a case study

Based on a real case study (e.g. Maracaibo, Venezuela), identify strategies to ensure access to water for all. There are districts that receive water every 20 to 25 days, but other districts have not received water for 3 months, 6 months or even a year. In addition, the lake water is polluted and causes diseases.

  1. Read a text (or video reportage – RTS, Tout un monde, 29.11.2019)
  2. Highlight the problems of the city
  3. Brainstorm around possible solutions along the world-café method:
    • Separate the class around three tables where three types of solutions will be discussed: technical, political, economic
    • Each 7 to 10 minutes, the groups mingle. One person, the host, remains at the table and summarizes the discussions held to the new group
    • After three shifts, the whole class goes through all three tables, a short summary being given by the host.
  4. In groups of four, formulate some proposals to guarantee access to water
  5. Identify the conditions for implementation (or the first steps).

Interdisciplinary inquiry method

Study a local water distribution system. To do this, form three groups in the class.

  1. The first group works with a historical perspective: When was the water distribution system built? What were the aims and difficulties at that time? What was the context? Is it still the same? Have the aims been reached?
  2. The second group works with a geographical perspective: How is the water distribution system planned within the territory? What is the underlying spatial logic? How did it develop? Who are the actors involved and what are their interests? How is this reflected in the way the water distribution system is planned?
  3. The third group works with a citizenship perspective: What are the laws and regulations related to water distribution? What were the political choices made ?

After a phase of sharing work, students are invited to identify some key issues of the local water distribution system, identifying what tends towards sustainability, and what does not.

Inquiry method: learners explore how water is managed in their area, and exchange with one another in the form of “expert-groups”. 
3 or 6 groups search in (scientific) literature, in the press, making interviews and fieldtrips, they define (one sub-topic per group or for two groups):

The groups mix (groups of 3 or 6 with 1 or 2 person per sub-topic – a,b,c)) and present their work to each other. Discuss: 

The groups present their conclusions to the whole group and discuss the similarities and differences in their judgement. The whole group then has to decide whether the water is managed in a sustainable way or not, and what could be done towards a more sustainable way of managing the resource if necessary, summarising what compromises they would have to make as individuals with a specific set of values. 

See also p. 146 of UNESCO’s guide 2017 “Textbooks for SD – a guide to embedding”.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes:

  1. Based on a picture of people lacking access to water/sanitation, students imagine their story. Writing in role as a person in the picture they describe the daily implications of the water/sanitation situation on their life.
  2. The different stories (at least 2-3 on the same picture) are then read and shared in small groups so as to realize the impact of a water-related situation on people’s lives.

The teacher keeps track of the most important features, and then brings in the real story of the illustrated people to see how far our thoughts were from reality

Inquiry method

  1. Using different resources (e.g. World Water Atlas: Belin Publishing), students describe the current situation.
  2. In groups, students analyse its (un)sustainable components and make suggestions as to why this could be, looking at the issue
    • from an environmental, social and economical perspective;
    • from a local, national and international point of view.
  3. In groups, students research their suggestions to see if there is evidence that they are correct.
  4. In plenary, various roots of inequality in water access and unsustainable management of water resources are presented and discussed.

Start with a vision, and identify the steps to make it happen:

  1. Present students with a future scenario for their area that demonstrates sustainable water management. Ask students in groups to analyse the gap between the present situation and the given scenario and think of possible steps and ways to move from the present towards the vision. Then ask them to think about how to put their ideas into action by identifying objectives, stakeholders to be dealt with, hindering/fostering elements (laws, political setting, socio-economic conditions, …) and further structural elements that could be used or would have to be dealt with.
  2. Groups share ideas and compare and discuss.
  3. In plenary, the teacher draws conclusions from ideas presented and points out things to take into account when operationalizing a vision for the future.