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WASH in Schools

"Call to Action for WASH in Schools" improves every child's right to water, sanitation and hygiene in Afghanistan

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2010

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, 1 September 2010 - This joint "Call to Action for WASH in Schools" made by Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is designed to increase investment in WASH in Schools, engage policy makers at all levels, involve multiple stakeholders, demonstrate quality of WASH in Schools, and monitor WASH in Schools.

Every child has the right to water, sanitation facilities and hygiene education.  Fulfilling this right is a major challenge in some countries.  In Afghanistan, according to the Ministry of Education, only 45% of school children have access to clean water and only 40% of schools have separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys.

The number of schools offering General Education in the country has increased from 6,039 in 2002 to 10,998 in 2008.  The number of students in General Education has also increased from 2.3 in 2002 to 6.2 in 2008 and the MoE in its Policy Environment has estimated that 10 million children will be enrolled in General Education by 2014.  This requires increased investments to support WASH in Schools.  The number of schools will reach 16,500 and the net enrolment of girls and boys in Basic Education will significantly increase by 2014.  The new standard school designs include safe water, sanitation facilities for all children including children with disabilities and boundary walls.  There are plans to include these facilities in existing schools for girls.

WASH in Schools encourages children's pride in their schools and communities by providing dignity and privacy.  It enables children to become agents of change for improving water, sanitation and hygiene practices within their familities and communities.  It helps children realize their full potential now and prepares them for healthy living as adults, able to share this legacy when they become parents.

With support from the donor governments of Japan, Finland, Sweden, Canada, and other partners, UNICEF is:

  • Introducing menstrual hygiene and health in schools
  • Standardizing school sanitary toilet designs, separate for girls and boys including facilities for children with disabilities
  • Grading schools into categories based on WASH parameters, targeting lowest grades
  • Developing the school WASH plan to be implemented by the school community (teachers, students, the school management committees and the parent-teacher associations)
  • Preparing guidelines and standards for WASH in Schools jointly with MRRD

According to Jarullah Mansoori, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, the MRRD joint Call to Action for WASH in Schools would change the situation for Afghanchildren.  "I am confident that this initiative will raise general awareness on the importance of WASH in Schools and will encourage our government and partners to take necessary actions aiming at covering all schools with WASH facilities by 2015."

According to Peter Crowley, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, WASH in Schools provides healthy, safe and secure school environments that can protect children from health hazards, abuse and exclusion.  It helps ensure quality education, which in turn, leads to better health and nutrition outcomes, especially for girls.  In his opinion, "WASH in Schools significantly reduces hygiene-related disease, increases students' attendance and learning achievements, and contributes to dignity and gender equality.  In pursuing this vision, UNICEF is pleased to be able to work in close collaboration with the MRRD, the MoE and the MoPH, and is grateful for the support of donors."



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