WASH Initiative Targets Half the World's Schools

A U.S.-based initiative to bring to light the fact that 50 percent of schools in the developing world still lack water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) was launched March 13 by Water Advocates.

The initiative joins the forces of U.S. nonprofits, corporations, foundations, schools, as well as civic and faith-based organizations to support the cause of global safe drinking water and sanitation in schools.

"It's amazing when you think about it: in 2008, half the world's schools still don't have any source of clean drinking water or even a basic latrine. The toll—in poor health, weakened academic performance, diminished school attendance—is enormous and should be seen as unacceptable," said David Douglas, president of Water Advocates.

Leaders of several key organizations, such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN), Pacific Institute, Inter-American Development Bank, Global Water Challenge, The Kind World Foundation and others, support the program. Daniel C. Edelson, executive director, National Geographic Education Foundation stated, "We look forward to partnering with the WASH-in-Schools program to motivate American students to learn more about the world we live in and teach them important geography that they are not currently getting in schools."

Providing WASH-in-Schools helps keep children – especially girls -- in school and makes it possible to break the cycle of poverty. UNICEF and U.S. nonprofits with proven track records providing WASH-in-Schools throughout the developing world have identified more than 1,000 additional schools in 30 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia that are immediately in need of WASH and could be helped if more support was available.

"The ability of Americans—individuals and organizations—to respond, in a targeted way, to this global problem is unprecedented," Douglas continued. "Through funding, sponsorship of projects, and advocacy, U.S. citizens can help extend WASH to thousands of schools in developing countries that have never experienced these benefits before. It's as basic as reading, writing, and arithmetic—schoolchildren need clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education to be able to learn."

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