With this global Wash programme, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) wants to guarantee access to water and sanitation as a basic public service. WaSH stands for water, sanitation and health. In addition, the organisation works to improve hygiene education. Needless to say, good hygiene increases the chances of survival of children and considerably reduces the risk of disease.
Duration and budget
The Government of Flanders earmarks 2 million euros for the WASH programme of UNICEF to improve sanitation and hygiene in Malawi. The project started in 2010 and will last 4 years.
Each year, 1.7 million children die of diarrhoea worldwide. 88% of these cases are the direct result of impure water and miserable sanitary conditions. Diarrhoea is only one of the fatal diseases. Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, are the main cause of death in children. Each day, 5,500 children die as a consequence of this. Research has shown that 40% of these deaths could have been avoided through better hygiene.
The Flemish aid to UNICEF in Malawi focuses on two districts, namely Zomba and Karonga. These districts are vulnerable to cholera, food shortage and flooding. More than 30% of the cholera cases and 60% of the deaths are situated in these districts.
With this programme UNICEF is working towards a number of specific goals:
- The poorest and least reachable communities should have better access to safe water. More specifically, safe water should be available within a walking distance of 500 metres and/or in schools within a distance of 200 metres.
- Also, access to sanitation facilities should be improved for schools and communities, among other places by building hand washing facilities.
- By enhancing the capacity of local authorities and civil organisations, integrated water, sanitation and hygiene actions should be effectively and efficiently planned, implemented, monitored and evaluated.
- UNICEF wants to promote hygiene at the level of the household, the community and the school, using participatory methods and mass communication. The goal is to have the three main hygiene practices increased from 35% to 60%. First of all, this is about the proper use of water during collection, transport, storage and consumption. Secondly, efforts have been made to teach people to make proper use of toilet facilities. Thirdly, attention is also paid to hand washing: after a visit to the toilet, before eating, or before children are fed and after their nappies have been changed.