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IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre



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For the sake of argument, I think that external funding for WASH in Schools projects does not undermine national and local commitment to providing these services. In theory, I would prefer to say “yes” but, in practice, I say “no”. All too often in my travels in the developing world visiting schools and their respective water supply and latrine systems I see poorly maintained and dilapidated systems that show no signs of cleanliness and maintenance long after funding has ended. Local and national governments are just not putting the necessary resources into these systems. Could it be because of external funding opportunities? Perhaps. Could it be the cultural viewpoint of adults towards children? I think more likely.

Who hasn’t visited a school where the students get excited to see a visitor and congregate at the classroom door and windows to gawk at the visitors only to get shooed away by teachers and other adults? I think there is a lack of respect of adults towards children. Children are seen as a drain of resources, especially financial and food, and play a subservient role to adults instead of being seen for the potential positive inputs to the household and community they can bring as they grow into adults. Until this potential is recognized by adults, especially adult leaders and educators, children will not be provided with the services (i.e., improved water supplies and sanitation) that they require to succeed in school and live healthy, productive lives.

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