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Back to stories from the field Dubai Cares eliminates key obstacles to school attendance in Sierra Leone

Dubai Cares eliminates key obstacles to school attendance in Sierra Leone

The Mabap community, which is part of the Bombali community in Sierra Leone, mainly comprises people with disabilities. These people not only have to contend with their disabilities but also with the ignominy of being treated as outcasts, which negatively affects them and their children. To attend the nearest school, children have to walk between 2-4 kilometers each day and hence are consequently left with very limited educational opportunities. Under the Dubai Cares' WASH-in-schools program in Bombali and the western districts, new child-friendly schools have been constructed and equipped with appropriate WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities.

Mr. Pa Alie Koroma, who is a member of the Mabap community, believes that with his child attending this new school, his family's status in the community will improve. "This program has given all of us in the Mabap community and the catchment's communities hope for a brighter future, as well as assurance and comfort that our children will receive quality education." Dubai Cares strongly believes that if every child today receives an education, positive change will be achieved resulting in a large-scale impact on generations to come.

Numerous requests have been made previously by the community members for a school that is closer to them but all pleas have gone unanswered. Realizing the tremendous positive impact that the Dubai Cares program will have on their lives and that of their children, Mr. Koroma and other members of the Mabap community have not only appreciated the program, but have also been actively involved in its implementation.

Developmental Challenges in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is ranked 180 out of 182 in the UN Human Development Index. About 70% of the population is living below the poverty line - only 39% has access to improved sanitation while 57% has access to an improved water source. In Sierra Leone, only 1 in 3 adults are able to read and write, and 300,000 children are out of school. Poor sanitation facilities and shortage of clean water are one of the key obstacles to school attendance, particularly among girls.

Dubai Cares Programs in Sierra Leone

Dubai Cares is working with UNICEF and Plan International to implement fully integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in schools pilot programs in two districts across Sierra Leone. The programs provide WASH facilities, peer education on healthy water and sanitation practices, as well as, on the community level, implement school and community-led total sanitation approaches to ensure the outreach and sustainability of healthy sanitation. The program will employ participatory learning techniques to allow school children to adopt positive hygiene practices. Essential School Sanitation Hygiene & Education (SSHE) materials are distributed across all 5,000 primary schools in Sierra Leone.