Lynn Cole

Executive Director, RISE International

Assessment of the effect of water supply on child morbidity.

Prize Amount

$68,000 USD


Bie Province, Angola


Angola is a country where years of oppression and civil war left the infrastructure in ruins, where people particularly in rural areas have had everything stripped from them. There are few schools and clinics, adults and children walk long distances to rivers to carry unclean water [back home for drinking], children die from diarrhea and there is hunger and desperate poverty. In Angola, 62% of the rural population does not have access to improved water sources. Since 2009, 15 wells have been installed at RISE schools, which are centrally located for use by the community, and facilitate the opportunity to educate about the critical importance of clean water, sanitation, health and nutrition. In one of the villages where the well had been in use for only two months, RISE reported no more cholera, or diarrhea.

RISE has rich anecdotal data highlighting the impact of clean water on children’s health, but does not have information to quantify and validate that impact. Angola lacks evidence of the impact that safe water supplies have on the extent of childhood diarrhea (enteric diseases) and mortality, a study of this kind, even at a small scale, is needed to inform the type and scale of water improvement projects in similar communities in Angola.

Project Description

This project will fund the installation of three water wells and assess the impact of a safe water supply in rural villages. The specific types of information sought are:

  1. Deaths of under-five children in the family, and if possible, the cause of death.
  2. Occurrence of diarrhea in under-five children in the two weeks preceding the survey.
  3. Sources of water for drinking, cooking, washing, and laundry used by the family.
  4. Family’s (mother’s) knowledge and practice of hygiene (food safety, hand washing, defecation sites andpractices).
  5. Care-seeking for and management of child health problems, especially diarrhea.
  6. Mothers’ level of education.
  7. Family income and level of living.
  8. Number of children under 18 years of age who currently attend a RISE school or other school in theirvillage.

If safe water wells are constructed near a public gathering place such as a school, it is hypothesized that morbidity and mortality of children under-five years of age living in the area, due to diarrhea and other enteric diseases will decline.

Project Novelty

Project Lead

Lynn is the Executive Director of RISE International and Ex-Officio member of the Board of Directors. She first traveled to Angola with her husband Andrew in 1998 to celebrate their 25th anniversary, and was forever impacted by the experience. Andrew and Lynn led mission teams to Namibia, Zambia and Angola and co-founded the African Refugee Committee, now called RISE International. Lynn has a background in residential general construction, retail sales and management. She and Andrew are the parents of four children, who also have a deep love for the Angolan people. Since Andrew’s untimely death in 2004, Lynn remains committed and passionate, moving the work and vision of RISE forward.


Originally founded as the African Refugee Committee (ARC) in 2001, ARC brought relief, development and support to refugees of the 27 year Angolan civil war, both in Namibia and Zambia. When the war ended in 2002, an entire generation was left unable to read and write – RISE committed to help rebuild Angola, building primary schools in rural areas. RISE is a small, grassroots organization with big goals and results. We began with a simple plan and a desire to impact lives, bringing the opportunity for education to children in remote, nearly inaccessible villages.Since 2003, RISE has built 159 schools and over 103,000 students have been impacted. Our model works – it is collaborative, scalable and has a proven track record of success. In a country rebuilding after 27 years of war, and amidst enormous challenges including lack of infrastructure and roads, poor communication, limited building materials, corruption and little trust after years of unfulfilled promises, much has been accomplished.

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