On the occasion of World Water Day on March 22, Dubai Cares is renewing its commitment to raising awareness about the importance and relevance of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools. In developing countries, such programs are vital in promoting effective hygiene practices in schools and their communities in order to reduce the spread of disease, improve enrollment and attendance and improve academic achievement.
The lack of access to safe water and appropriate sanitation in schools increases the incidences of waterborne related diseases, which affect a child's ability to attend and excel in school. On average, children in developing countries walk six kilometers every day to collect water for their families.
According to Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Cares, “Poor access to safe water and lack of sanitation leads to 104 million children worldwide receiving no education at all. In all our programs we aim to provide a healthier learning environment for children, for this reason we always ensure the integration of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene in our programs and the World Water Day is an important reminder of the significance of such programs. From our field experience, we have witnessed the positive impact of WASH programs, as students become agents of change. Having learnt the importance of clean water, proper sanitation, and hand-washing, they take the lessons home to their families, and ultimately transform their communities.”
As noted by Murat Sahin, UNICEF WASH in Schools Advisor, “Almost half of all schools in low-income countries do not have access to water and sanitation facilities. This situation particularly affects the most marginalized and vulnerable children, including girls and those with disabilities. Every child has the right to be healthy and to learn with dignity. Providing WASH in Schools facilities and programmes – safe water, proper sanitation and hygiene education – is an effective way to support the right of all children to attend a school where they can grow, learn and thrive.”
Dubai Cares has committed approximately AED 79.3 million (USD 21.6 million) to enhancing access to clean drinking water, adequate and gender-sensitive latrines as well as promoting hygiene improvements in schools in countries such as Mali, Sierra Leone and Indonesia. Dubai Cares is providing more than 1,000 water wells and potable water sources and constructing over 3,000 latrines in schools, thus providing a healthier school environment to 1.8 million children.