Children take the lead in improving access to safe water and sanitation
Three hundred schoolchildren representing Tajikistan's 58 districts and 185 of the country's schools gathered in the capital, Dushanbe, to participate in the first National Children's Water Forum, from 21 to 23 August 2003.
The forum enabled children to learn more about issues related to water, the environment and sanitation in their country, discuss ways to improve the situation in their communities and call for action from a wide range of groups, including the Government and other children.
"This forum is very useful for me and the other children," said Dilshod, a 12-year-old participant. "Now, I know what I should do with fresh water and how to keep myself clean."
Children from UNICEF-supported schools participated in the opening ceremony by singing, dancing and performing skits that conveyed key messages on hygiene and sanitation.
"Boys should also fetch water for the household," said Boltaeva, age 15. "It should not only be girls. Boys should also help keep the school and their homes clean."
In her opening speech, UNICEF Representative Yukie Mokuo thanked the children for attending the forum and for actively participating in the UNICEF-supported Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Projects in Schools. She also applauded the cooperation and support of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the National Commission for Child Protection and the Tajik Football Federation.
Faizullo Khushvakhtov, representing the Office of the President of Tajikistan, praised the children's efforts to promote hygiene and sanitation in their schools, families and communities. He also thanked UNICEF for its support in the rehabilitation or construction of water and sanitation facilities in 200 schools in the country.
Adapted from UNICEF, at www.unicef.org/infobycountry/Tajikistan_14039.html.