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We have failed on WASH in Schools...
...is the title of this debate. Clearly the title suggests 'we' did, a hint? The problem is really with the 'we'. Who is responsible for WASH in schools? The director, the board, the department, the government, the parents, the kids (as of a certain age) ??? My take is that the prime responsible is government, starting at central and then down to lowest levels, in terms of facilitating awareness, offering solutions, subsidizing resources, offering information, accountability and transparency on the WASH situation in Schools in a country or local-government. If government is the prime 'we', driven by politicians, then it depends on the level of education and democracy (not always, see the Tigers in Asia) of populations i.e. citizens whether 'we' is failing or improving. If 'we' is the development mafia (of all sorts, more, or less mafia), then 'we', is my conviction, play only a minor role. Still whoever the 'we' is, at a global scale we, human beings, are still failing, even if progress is made at times (in a sustainable way? do we know? probably not!). - Peter
This is an interesting contribution in terms of failing or succeeding! I fully support the contribution, but wonder whether in itself it is an argument to say that 'we' did not fail?
A few positive and negative pictures attached...
How many of us can honestly say?
See my first contribution (arguing perception of failure). How many of us can honestly acertain that of all schools ever visited in poor societies, a majority was offering the full menu of decent WASH services at the school (for boys and girls, well kept and maintained, provided with hand washing facilities, including soap or ash) ?
Murat of course many positive statistics can be given. But if we look behind these statistics, do we see consistent changing behaviour or sustained good quality WASH at schools facilities? I wonder. In any case, even if parts of India show positive developments (and I saw good things in Kerala), is it representative for the global situation of WASH at schools?
If so, what can we learn from India's experience? Where is the magic? Maybe Bollywood should advocate more!
How good to read you all the way up north-west of Cameroon! I like your optimism and pessimism, that's why I support you.
But... I am convinced that highl level WASH at Schools advocates should shame much more courageously governments that fail to develop a coordinated strategy to change behaviour at all levels. Embassy projects are less than a drop and I doubt that a majority - in the long run - reach any sustainability or contribute to changing behaviour.
- who is we? the development incrowd?
- how do you measure failed?
I have worked for a good 15 years full time in various poor societies (with obviously some very richt among them) around the world. After that I have been involved for another 15 years in WASH and IWRM related cooperation in over 25 countries. Whenever I went rural or low-income urban, the overwhelming majority (guestimate>75%) of the (primary) schools I visited had either unkept or derelict toilet facilities, most of the time not providing much privacy to girls. Probably even a higher percentage did not have any decent handwashing facility: either no water, dirty water, and very very rarely anything resembling soap or ash.
Peter J. Bury, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre