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Media advisory

European Union & UNICEF to launch major water-sanitation project

4-year initiative to assist schools, health centres and villages in 21 districts

WHO: Senior representatives of:
- Ministries of Water-Environment, Health, Education-Sports
- 21 project target districts
- Development partners – SIDA, Danida, African Development Bank, Work Bank and others
- Civil society – AMREF, ASB, AVSI, CESVI, COOPI, CPAR, GVC, HEWASA, Joy Drilling, WEDC and others
- European Union Head of Delegation in Uganda, Mr. Vincent de Visscher
- UNICEF Representative in Uganda, Mr. Keith McKenzie

WHAT: Launch of EU Water Facility-supported “Sustainable WASH Initiative for the Rural Poor in 21 Districts in Uganda contributing to the attainment of the MDGs” project (water, sanitation, and hygiene)

WHEN:  Tuesday, 1 July 2008, 11.00-13.00 hrs

WHERE: Bukuku Primary School, Kabarole District

WHY: The EUWF project, being implemented by UNICEF, the Ministries of Water & Environment (MWE), Education and Sports (MoES) and Health (MoH) and partners until 2011, aims to increase access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and improve hygiene behaviour, with a focus on rural schools, health centres and communities in the following 21 districts:

- North (7) – Amolatar, Amuru, Apac, Dokolo, Gulu, Lira, Oyam
- East (9) – Kaberamaido, Abim, Amuria, Kaabong, Katakwi, Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Soroti
- West (5) – Kyenjojo, Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kasese

The project aims to provide 25 per cent of the communities in the selected districts with increased access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation and improved hygiene behaviour.

Poor sanitation and unsafe water contribute to diarrhoeal disease which, in Uganda, is the second leading cause of infant mortality (after malaria) accounting for up to 19 per cent of infant deaths.  The strategy for combating diarrhoeal disease is to increase access to safe water and sanitation, while working with communities to improve hygiene practices.

With a national average of approximately 63 per cent, safe water access has improved – but is not guaranteed for all.  Some 45 sub-counties have coverage levels that have consistently remained below 20 per cent.  Water and sanitation systems in the key community points of the school and health centre is of particular concern:  Fewer than 1 in 5 primary schools, sampled by the Ministry of Education and Sports in 2006, were providing at least 5 litres of safe water per pupil, per day.  Most schools do not have access to safe water within a walking distance of 500 metres.  Although there has been a steady improvement in the pupil-to-latrine stance ratio since 1997, the current 61:1 is still high compared to the set standard of 40:1.

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About UNICEF in Uganda:
UNICEF, the world’s leading child rights organization, works in Uganda to help the Government meet its obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  The 2006-2010 Government of Uganda-UNICEF Country Programme aims to ensure that the most vulnerable children in the most disadvantaged communities progressively realise their rights to survival, development, participation and protection.  Protecting and furthering these rights, as codified in the CRC, helps Uganda meet the Millennium Development Goals and expands opportunities for children and women to contribute meaningfully to the progress of their communities and nation.

UNICEF’s partnerships in Uganda have reached over 7 million persons with critical inputs to sustain immunization services; extend primary health care and nutrition; improve family-care practices; ensure HIV/AIDS prevention and control; expand water, sanitation and hygiene; improve primary education and enable the special protection of children.  Interventions have been both humanitarian and development-oriented in nature.

UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.                            

For more information, please contact:
Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Uganda, +256 (0)772 222 347, chyun@unicef.org




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