Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero reinforced the United States’ commitment to addressing the challenges surrounding water, sanitation and health (WASH) in the keynote speech at an event entitled, “Raising Clean Hands: How WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) Is Essential to Achieve Universal Education,” this morning at the Academy for Educational Development (AED) Headquarters in Washington D.C. Through this WASH initiative, the U.S. Government will begin a new partnership with the Millennium Water Alliance, Global Water Challenge, and the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group to highlight water, sanitation and health issues in developing countries.
More than half of all primary schools in developing countries do not have adequate water facilities and nearly two-thirds lack adequate sanitation. Children in these schools are more likely to become ill and less likely to attend school. Girls are especially affected when schools lack gender-specific sanitation facilities.
The United States has a long and ongoing commitment to improving water, sanitation and health in developing countries. The WASH in Schools initiative demonstrates how public-private partnerships play an important role in providing funding and support to ensure a future where all boys and girls can practice good hygiene in schools. This initiative will enable Ambassadors and other senior U.S. officials to engage host government and local communities on the importance of WASH in schools and its relationship to health, education, and gender equity.
The event attracted a broad range of professionals from the health, education, and water sectors. Several public and private sector experts participated in the WASH in Schools launch, including Coca-Cola, UNICEF and EFA Fast Track Initiative. Attendees engaged the experts in a panel discussion on the barriers to and opportunities for reaching universal water and sanitation coverage for children in schools in the near future.