Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

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© UNICEF Philippines/2012
Evacuees carry hygiene kits which were distributed in a temporary evacuation center in Bay, Sta Cruz, Laguna.

Achieving global development goals is impossible without paying attention to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). Evidence shows that WASH improves children’s health and ability to do well in school. WASH also promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women, as well as the growth of poor communities, by easing the burden of domestic chores, and reducing dangers that shadow water hauling and open defecation.

Poor WASH conditions lead to diarrhoea, one of the major causes of deaths among children below five years old. Long-term exposure to an unsanitary environments due to poor sanitation access and not hand washing with soap can also cause stunting, which impacts brain development and could lead to very poor educational outcomes.

In addition, intestinal worm infection rates in the Philippines go up to as high as 67 per cent—higher than most countries in Southeast Asia. These infections place Filipino children at risk of disrupted brain development.

Schools in marginalized communities in the Philippines are the least served. A 2010 survey by the Department of Education (DepED) estimates that more than 7,000 primary schools have no steady water source at all. And more than 90,000 school toilets need to be constructed just to meet the basic standard.

Due to the high prevalence of diarrhoea, stunting and intestinal worms in children under 5 years old, and sanitation coverage lagging behind safe water coverage, the UNICEF WASH programme’s primary focus is on increased household demand for basic sanitation, improved hygiene practice. The program will also support the government’s efforts in increasing drinking water coverage in the waterless municipalities of the country.

The completion of the steps in the WASH Pathway of Change, therefore, seeks to deliver results for children in the areas of high-impact water and sanitation services and hygiene behaviour practices.

 

 
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