Past Work in Latin America
Why WASH in Schools?
Each year globally, children lose 272 million school days due to diarrhea and an estimated one-third of school-aged children are infested with intestinal worms. These illnesses not only rob children of their education they are also the underlying causes of malnutrition and stunting in children.
Improved WASH in schools has been shown to significantly reduce hygiene-related diseases, increase student attendance and learning achievement and contribute to dignity and gender equity.
Even absent the firm statistical evidence proving the benefits of WASH in Schools, providing adequate WASH services in schools is simply fundamental to fulfilling every child’s human right to education.
What is SWASH+?
Since 2008, three MWA members – CARE, Catholic Relief Services, and Water For People – have worked in coalition with communities and governments to improve access to WASH in schools in Central America, where it is estimated that 75% of rural schools lack access to basic WASH services.
MWA’s regional program, Mi Escuela Saludable (My Healthy School) SWASH+, has reached more than rural 300 schools in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala in three years. A total of 40,000 students — including 27,000 girls — now go to school in a healthier, more conducive environment for learning.
With support from donors including the GETF, The Coca-Cola Company Latin America Group, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IBD), much has been accomplished by the Mi Escuela Saludable SWASH+ program in its first three years. Yet, the pace of change is not nearly fast enough. There are 30,000 schools in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala still in need of WASH services.
Our overall goal is to achieve 100% coverage of safe water access, improved basic sanitation, and hygiene education in rural schools in Central America by 2020.
What Does It Do?
In collaboration with national and local government, community members, parent-teachers associations, school personnel, and the private sector, the program:
- Utilizes the Proyectos Ejecutados por la Comunidad (PEC) method to empower parent-teacher associations (PTAs) to drive the project management process and build the capacity of local community members in budgeting and management of funds, procurement of materials, hiring and supervision of construction workers, and collection of fees for on-going operations and maintenance.
- Prioritizes advocacy strategies to ensure WASH funding is high on the agenda of the Ministry of Education and other relevant ministries and in the municipal educational budgeting and planning processes to significantly increase government commitments to reaching 100% sustainable WASH coverage in schools.
- Shift to a financing model where the costs of WASH improvements in schools are financed not by external donors but by local communities and governments with donor finance used as a catalyst to spur local investment.
MWA and its member organizations are building the momentum required to make this shift by adopting proven approaches from the first phase of the Mi Escuela Saludable SWASH+ and adding new emphasis on creating financing mechanism and WASH as a business option to enable the goal of 100% coverage to become a reality.