Thousands of Vietnamese children benefit from UNICEF and Procter & Gamble’s project on water and sanitation in primary schools
Dong Thap, 26 November 2011 - UNICEF and Procter & Gamble (P&G) have completed a US$275,000 project to provide water and sanitation facilities in primary schools and educate children, parents and teachers about hygienic practices. The project was implemented in the four provinces deemed most in need - Dien Bien, Ninh Thuan, An Giang and Dong Thap. Around 8,000 students in 34 schools, of which 40 per cent are ethnic minority, now have access to safe water and hygienic sanitation facilities and demonstrated improved awareness and behaviour on hygiene and sanitation. More than 400 teachers have been trained to operate and maintain the newly constructed water and sanitation systems. P&G’s generous donation has helped to attain the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation and the National Target of having sanitation facilities in 100 per cent of schools in Viet Nam.
A handover ceremony to mark the completion of the successful project has been organized today in Mỹ Thọ Primary and Lower Secondary School of Cao Lanh district, Dong Thap province, where the newly constructed facilities have begun operation. Following the Ceremony, hundreds of students, teachers and parents have enthusiastically participated in the School Hygiene and Sanitation Festival. With many entertainment activities organized for children, such as singing, dancing, knowledge quizzes, drawing contests, hand-washing competitions, forums and dialogues with local leaders, the Festival aims to promote hygienic behaviours among children in the community. Through the entertainment activities, children learn about sanitation, practise hygienic behaviors and create momentum for change in school. “Children are agents of change. They are the best educators within their homes and communities about the issue. We hope that the events do not only help to change the sanitary practises of children, but also to encourage the community to adopt these practices”, said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative.
School sanitation and hygiene is still a pressing issue in Viet Nam. In 2009, around 30 per cent of schools in the country did not have adequate hygienic water and sanitation facilities. While more than 70 per cent of schools have latrines, only 12 per cent of rural schools have hygienic latrines meeting Ministry of Health standards. In addition, many of the school’s sanitation facilities are not used because they are either unhygienic or insufficient for boys and girls to use. Hygienic behaviour such as hand-washing with soap is rarely practised by students at school and as little as 11.5 per cent of students wash their hands with soap after defecation. The situation is even worse in remote, mountainous and disadvantaged areas where ethnic minorities live.
Lack of clean and safe water and sanitation facilities and poor hygiene practices at school have negative impacts on child health and education outcomes. Water-and-sanitation-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and worms hinder child growth and adversely affect school attendance, knowledge retention and overall educational performance. The situation is more critical for ethnic minority girls in poor rural areas. Poorly designed or non-existent water and sanitation facilities in schools are one of the main reasons for girls attending classes less frequently or dropping out of school entirely and, as a result, their enrolment rates lag behind that of boys.
Ms Nguyen Thi Kim Loan, P&G Corporate Affairs Director, shared “P&G has a purpose to Touch and Improve more lives and more completely in Viet Nam, especially the children from 3-13 years old. We are very pleased that in the area of hygiene & sanitation, over five years, P&G has contributed to build almost 50 sanitation facilities for schools across the country. More than 20,000 children has benefitted from the programme, of which 8,000 children have been touched through this partnership with UNICEF”.
Improving sanitation facilities and practices in primary schools is an integral part of UNICEF’s Programme of Cooperation with the Government of Viet Nam. This support from Procter & Gamble is part of its Corporate Social Programme, ‘Live, Learn and Thrive’, and part of the Local Social Programme ‘For a Brighter Future’.
“UNICEF appreciates the opportunity to work with the private sector in general, and Procter & Gamble in particular, in improving the well-being of children in Viet Nam. I believe that the private sector can make a real difference in the lives of children, many of whom are living in poverty and deprivation – and all of whom comprise the human and social capital on which Viet Nam’s future prosperity depends”, said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Viet Nam Representative.
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