Scale Africa Inc.

SCALEAfrica Announces WiSH Initiative at 2016 CGI Annual Meeting

09/19/2016, 10:00

SCALEAfrica Announces WiSH Initiative: Increasing Access to Education For Girls in Zambia Through WASH (Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene)


Contact: Erinn McGurn, AIA, Executive Director,

New York, New York (September 19, 2016)—At the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, SCALEAfrica announced a Commitment to Action to survey and assess all twenty-eight community schools with respect to sanitation and water infrastructure in Mambwe District, Eastern Province, Zambia. The commitment would aim to demolish or rehabilitate existing girls' sanitation blocks and construct new sanitation facilities that are designed to reflect the physical and emotional needs of adolescent girls in rural areas. Where necessary, water infrastructure would be repaired or constructed. Programs on hygiene and menstrual hygiene management (MHM), as well as community engagement to encourage adoption, will be implemented at each community school. 

The purpose of SCALEAfrica’s new WiSH Initiative is to ensure every community school in Mambwe District has access to clean water, girl-centered sanitation and basic hygiene and MHM programs, reaching approximately 4845 students, and increasing girls' participation in and completion of primary school.

In Zambia, lack of safe, healthy sanitation facilities and clean water sources are a major prohibiting factor in girls attending and completing primary school. Typical existing sanitation infrastructure is not girl-centric and does not allow for the privacy, safety, or personal hygiene necessary for girls to feel supported in their school environment. Abandoned pit latrines are often places where sexual violence is committed, creating larger public and mental health crises. Girls disproportionately bear the burden of carting often contaminated water many kilometers, causing them to miss school and putting them at greater risk for sexual assault. Contaminated water is frequently the source of diarrheal disease that further disrupts their educational advancement.

This commitment expands upon SCALEAfrica's 2013 CGI Commitment to Action “Building Futures,” which now stands as Zambia’s first sustainably-designed, technology-based primary school, by replicating the infrastructure groundwork of what has been achieved at the Vinza Community School at twenty-eight new sites. In shifting to a comprehensive public health and WASH initiative, SCALEAfrica will bring safe sanitation, clean water, and public health programming as a first and necessary step to further rural community school development in Mambwe District. By increasing girls' access to education through WASH, providing health programming, lessening opportunity for violence against girls, and in turn bolstering enrollment and attendance, the WiSH Initiative aims to become a model for rural school development that integrates the unique needs of girls from the outset.


Founded by architect, Erinn McGurn, and native of Zimbabwe, Guy Baron, SCALEAfrica is a New York-based non-profit organization designing and building green school infrastructure in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Through culturally responsive, sustainable architecture and an inclusive community participation model, SCALEAfrica leverages design as an agent for social change. With a project-based approach, the built work acts to increase access to education and services, boost local economies, and preserve the natural environment. There are currently over 2000 students in the Eastern Province of Zambia attending SCALEAfrica designed schools. Through her architecture firm SCALEStudio, the Founder also has social impact design and educational projects in Burundi, Uganda, and the Philippines. 

WiSH Initiative FACT SHEET

• Build 28 new girl-centric sanitation facilities and wells in Eastern Province, Zambia
• Provide over 300 new construction jobs in the community, with a goal of 50% participation by women
• Integrate lessons on health, hygiene, and MHM

• Built using local labor/suppliers, locally-sourced and renewable materials
• Employing passive and technology-driven strategies for lighting, ventilation, and decomposition
• Gravity-fed plumbing to ensure handwashing and basic hygiene necessities are met
• Green buildings act as a learning tool and reinforcement of the school community’s role in conservation

• Access to safe sanitation and clean water is a human right
• Lack of access to water and sanitation disproportionately affects girls and women
• With well-designed environments and 21st century resources, Zambian students can be educated out of a life of poverty and armed with applicable knowledge and tools to thrive
• Educated children will grow to solve global problems and create change in their own communities

To read more about the WiSH Initiative, please visit


Erinn McGurn is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of SCALEAfrica, a non-profit organization directly addressing the growing need for access to education, responsible shelter, clean water, and sanitation by working within rural African communities that need design services most. Through culturally-responsive, sustainable architecture and an active community participation model, SCALEAfrica leverages the power of design to increase access to education, boost local economies, and preserve the natural environment.

Erinn is also a licensed architect and Owner/Principal of SCALEStudio in New York City. By balancing work with private clients and non-profit institutions on educational projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, the studio actively works to transform traditional architectural practice by operating on a for-benefit model with social change and community-driven design as the primary focus.

Erinn was a 2014 recipient of Architectural Record's inaugural Women In Architecture Award, honoring an architect who has used her skills to design for social change, affect the public realm or perform pro bono work. SCALEAfrica was also named to “The Good List” by Architectural Record as one of the best non-profits “building for social change" and the "Public Interest Design 100" for working at the intersection of design and service.

In 2013, SCALEAfrica was admitted as a complimentary member into the Clinton Global Initiative, where Erinn now serves as an advisor to the Clinton Foundation on Girls and Women Integration. SCALEAfrica’s first CGI commitment in 2013, “Building Futures: Reimagining Community School Development in Rural Zambia” now stands as Zambia’s first sustainably-designed, technology-based primary school.

Erinn also serves on the Board of Directors of the Smith College Alumnae Association, the Advisory Board of the Smith College Center for the Environment and the STEM Advisory Board for Partnership for After School Education (PASE) in NYC.

Erinn received a B.A. from Smith College where she majored in Architecture. She received her Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998.


Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)—an initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation—convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media.

To date, members of the CGI community have made over 3,400 commitments, improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at