National plan for the promotion of water and sanitation in Mali
By Guy Degen
SOUFOUROULAYE, Mali, 19 August 2010 – At the Soufouroulaye Primary School in Mali, a derelict water pump stands dry in the dusty playground, quenching no one's thirst.
The children here have latrines, but there's no clean water or soap available to wash their hands. Rubbish is burned and left to rot near the playground.
Help for schools
The Malian Government has developed a National Strategic Plan for the Promotion of Hygiene Education in Schools.
UNICEF and its partners are supporting Mali’s national education, sanitation, water and health services to provide an estimated 60 per cent of schools with appropriate water and sanitation facilities and to promote safe hygiene practices in school – a significant step for Mali towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation.
Water is health
For children at Koutienso Primary School near the town of Segou, life at school has completely changed since work began on a new pump for safe drinking water.
For Josephine, 9, the new water pump is already making a big difference.
Progress for girls
Josephine and her classmates are also benefiting from separate latrines for girls, providing the privacy and hygiene to which they are entitled.
It's estimated that less than 14 per cent of schools in Mali have separate latrines for girls. Shared-gender toilets, coupled with poor overall sanitation, discourages many girls from attending school.
But simple, low-cost water, sanitation and hygiene solutions can immediately boost a girl’s chance to complete her education. And improved access to clean water, latrines and soap for washing hands will mean that more children – both boys and girls – will stay healthy and remain in school longer.