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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

'Call to Action for WASH in Schools' promotes water, sanitation and hygiene education

© UNICEF video
5-year-old Yupa washes her hands with her classmates in the child-friendly bathrooms in her preschool.

NEW YORK, USA, 1 April 2010 – Every child has the right to water, sanitation and hygiene education and facilities. In many countries, consistently providing this is a major challenge for policy makers, schools and communities.

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Though great strides have been made to safeguard the well-being of children in educational environments, a recent survey of 60 developing countries showed that more than 50 per cent of schools in poor countries still lack access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities.

A call to action

In response, on 5 April 2010, key decision makers and concerned stakeholders will meet at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid Conference and Exhibition to launch a new global campaign for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools (WASH).

© UNICEF video
Girls and boys at Baan Klonggum School in Kuraburi District, Thailand practice good handwashing skills as part of UNICEF's WASH in Schools Programme.

This 'Call to Action for WASH in Schools' is designed to attract political and public attention, and is the result of a collaboration between CARE, Dubai Cares, UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), Save the Children and other key partners.

The goal is to expand the WASH in Schools programmes to improve health, foster learning and enable children to participate as agents of change for their siblings, their parents and their communities.

A critical need

"Currently, investment can be quite low, and sometimes WASH in Schools falls between the cracks... we just need to make sure there is funding allocated and that it does get priority," said Therese Dooley, Senior WASH Advisor for UNICEF.

Ensuring that schools provide water, hygiene and sanitation facilities and education is critical to children's health and development.

Each year, children lose 272 million school days due to diarrhoea, and an estimated one in three school-aged children in the developing world suffer with intestinal worms. Such hookworm infestations can lead to anaemia, IQ loss, developmental and behavioural disturbances, malnutrition and stunting.

Among children under 14, more than 20 per cent of deaths and disabilities are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene.

'WASH in Schools'

WASH in Schools programmes foster healthy and safe school environments that protect children from health hazards, abuse and exclusion.

The goal of the upcoming 'Call to Action for WASH in Schools' is to increase resources, and to engage policy makers and communities in constructing and maintaining water and sanitation facilities, and in activating and monitoring WASH programmes in schools.




19 March 2010: UNICEF correspondent Nina Martinek reports on the planned ‘Call to Action for WASH in Schools’ to be launched at Dubai International Humanitarian Aid Conference on 5 April 2010.
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