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IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

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2 points

It is difficult to place oneself on the yes or no side of this argument. In an ideal situation – that most of us are striving for – school WASH would be provided by governments. This is the end game, but we are clearly not there yet. One of the key ways in which international donors and NGOs can help to achieve this is through policy advocacy and through being part of the process to develop best practices. Implementing school WASH programs, when done properly through engagement with local partners, communities and government agencies, gives us the understanding of the sector, the challenges and context and the name recognition necessary to be a credible voice in effective policy advocacy at the country level. Basically, experience in the trenches gets you a seat at the table and can sometimes give you more credibility than those who may be seen as being in “ivory towers.”

Best practices in school WASH are still being developed and much of this would likely not have happened without programs from external donors. Development and refinement of these best practices can then be seen as another step toward the end game. Perhaps governments will see that the often quite small investments required for school WASH can have great benefits in a wide range of areas: directly, health and education of course, but also, indirectly, poverty alleviation, the local and national economy, gender equality, maternal and child health, in fact, most of the MDGs! Communities may also see what is possible and both engage further in improving the situation in their community and local school and in advocating for improved services themselves.

I would argue that external donors' use and refinement of good practices through implementation of school WASH should be part of the hand that they play in effectively advocating for both governments and communities to take on increased commitment in the sector.

Simon Mead, WaterCan

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