UNICEF began its water, sanitation and hygiene programme in Kyrgyzstan following the crisis of June 2010. Assessments conducted during the crisis highlighted longstanding problems with community and public water supply reliability and quality, sanitation, public health and hygiene awareness and practices.
The key reasons why children did not wash their hands after going to the toilet relate to a lack of infrastructure. Most schools and healthcare facilities were found to be in need of improved water and sanitation facilities as well as considerable improvements in hygiene practices and awareness. This meant that the immediate response to the crisis evolved into longer-term work to improve conditions in the country.
UNICEF is now designing and constructing water and sanitation facilities in well over 150 schools, preschools and health centres. These activities have been designed to be sustainable, improve facility design and take into account the special needs of girls and children with disabilities.
UNICEF carries out hygiene promotion interventions in target schools designed for the local context, provides training materials for teachers and is undertaking national media campaigns on hygiene awareness. It is also supporting Government efforts to address gaps and weaknesses in standards and designs for water, sanitation and hygiene, and to ensure the sustainability of existing infrastructure.