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Direct service delivery for WASH in Schools (WinS) has its place in certain situations. In emergencies, for example, or – in some cases – in poor communities where government funding is limited or non-existent. However, direct funding should always be leveraged in such a way that it goes beyond serving the target schools and communities. Externally-funded projects should be designed to serve as models to demonstrate successful new approaches and principles (or even to demonstrate what doesn’t work). But this doesn’t happen automatically: external support for service delivery must be provided within a broader programme of cooperation with local and national government stakeholders that can capitalize on the demonstration potential of pilots. For example, if the project is properly monitored and assessed it can provide evidence on benefits accruing from WinS to help leverage new finance streams, or it can be an input to a process on modifying national standards for WinS.
Of course it's not "only" about priorities for WASH in schools - but it is an important aspect that is sometimes overlooked. To be successful we need to stimulate behaviour change among decision makers as well as among children. Handwashing messages on coca cola trucks are fine and good, but they won't convince the Minister of Education or the development bank official to allocate more funds for toilets (or hygiene behaviour programmes) in schools...
I agree we have not failed: there is no doubt that progress has been made on many fronts. But there is also no doubt that major challenges remain. The data we have shows progress, but if we had the means to measure progress in relation to the standards in the new WHO/UNICEF guidelines for WASH in Schools (e.g. more toilets per girl than per boy, gender segregation, existence of hygiene education, etc.) the coverage figures would be much lower. The fact that we don’t have a solid data set yet is itself an indication that much still needs to be done. Ultimately it comes down to whether WASH in Schools is a perceived priority for Education officials, decision makers in government, and the development banks (which fund large school construction projects). On this front there is also progress, but it is still common in 2011 to find such officials who have no real interest in WASH in Schools.
I am probably a good person but I haven't taken the time to fill out my profile, so you'll never know!
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