Together with other UN agencies, UNICEF was instrumental in advocating for the The National Sanitation Policy, which was adopted in October 2008.
UNICEF supported the construction, rehabilitation, and repair of non-functioning water points and helped half a million gain access to safe water. School sanitation facilities were constructed, providing access to more than 2.8 million children. UNICEF worked with the Government and NGOs to provide improved latrines to 152,000 people in rural and peri-urban areas.
Intersectoral integration has been central in the programming of interventions. In this respect, water and sanitation activities are part of the Accelerated Child Survival and Development strategy. The current programme has therefore set itself to contribute to increasing access to safe water from 66 percent in 2004 to 80 percent in 2011 and access to improved sanitation from 62 to 70 percent during the same period.
The programme focuses on rural communities, schools, early childhood care centres (CBCCs), and health centres for the provision of safe water and sanitation facilities. In order to sustain the gains made, emphasis is placed on community capacity building to maintain and manage the facilities and the coverage reached. Coupled with this, capacities of households and village level committees are improved to ensure sustainable change. This is done through the use of participatory methods such as community dialogue, participatory sanitation and hygiene transformation (PHAST) and other participatory tools and rights based approaches to promote local planning, implementation, and self assessments.
The Government, with support from UNICEF and other partners, has continued to implement an integrated package of water, sanitation and hygiene promotion services in rural communities. In 2007, 220 area mechanics were trained to repair, rehabilitate and construct new water facilities, 250 maintenance contracts were signed between the area mechanics and communities and 220 extension workers were trained to assess water facilities. Around 647 water points were installed and 38 rehabilitated, which brought safe water to more than 170,000 people.
With funding from USAID, UNICEF supported operations research in Salima and Blantyre districts using antenatal clinics as a vehicle to reach households with hygiene interventions. The project provided 15,000 pregnant women with hygiene messages and a hygiene kit. A baseline survey on hygiene knowledge and practices among the pregnant women was conducted in May in collaboration with the Centre for Disease Control.
Schools that do not have working toilets or water are not only unhealthy for children but also discourage children from attending and completing their education. A UNICEF school survey in 2002 found that more than 20 percent of the sampled schools with water supply facilities did not have water and that latrines were grossly inadequate, with a latrine-pupil ratio of 1:130. Since then efforts have been made to repair and construct water and sanitation facilities in rural schools with the participation of communities. In 2007, 39 school water points were fixed with UNICEF support, bringing safe water to 23,000 school children. Locally trained masons, using an updated manual on school sanitation and bricks and sand donated by the surrounding community, built child-friendly and separate boys/girls toilets and hand washing areas in 80 schools.
Real lives: Water and sanitation
Real lives tells the stories of children in Malawi whose lives have been touched by UNICEF.
Photo essay: Water and sanitation in schools
Learn more about the challenges faced children at school in Malawi and what UNICEF is doing about water and sanitation in shools depicted through photos.
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