For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Communications Director, John Sauer
jsauer (AT) or 202-293-4003

1,000 Schools Get Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education

WASHINGTON - An effort launched a year ago
with the intention of extending access to safe drinking water, sanitation and
hygiene (WASH) to 1,000 schools in developing countries has succeeded,
demonstrating first hand that the successful scaling up of these urgently needed
interventions is possible. With potentially a million schools world-wide
lacking access to WASH, it is critical to
scale up WASH-in-Schools
programs across the developing world. 

The U.S. WASH-in-Schools Initiative—launched at the National
Geographic Society in March 2008— focused a spotlight on the fact that
half the world’s schools lack access to water and basic sanitation. It
was designed to build on existing work by local governments, UNICEF and nonprofits,
while recognizing that schools could become centers for not only education but
also improved health.

How this need relates to poverty around the world particularly
resonated with students at Washington, D.C.’s Oyster
Adams Bilingual
School. “I learned
there was no clean water in many parts of the world, not just Africa,”
explained Margueritte Harris, a student at Oyster-Adams
School which has committed to raise
$2,565 for a school in Bolivia.

Exchanging pen pal letters and sharing photos helped thousands of U.S.
students grasp that there are real children and stories behind the abstract and
daunting statistics.

An array of nonprofits, foundations, corporations, U.S. schools, civic groups, USAID,
U.S. State Department and
UNICEF made the U.S. WASH-in-Schools Initiative an integral part of supplying water,
sanitation and hygiene education to over 650,000 students in 30 developing
countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia
this past year.

Several particularly innovative funding groups emerged to support WASH-in-Schools. For
example, H2O for Life (
matched U.S. schools with
overseas schools in need of WASH, while charity: water ( carried out
remarkable marketing for WASH-in-Schools
programs. The Global Water Challenge (
significantly expanded its program through the Clean Start Fund.

A teacher from Rafael Herrera School
in San Lorenzo, Nicaragua, which benefited from the
Initiative, recalled that “children got diarrhea and were vomiting
because the water was contaminated and some of the children were so sick they
had to go to the hospital; several students missed up to two weeks of school.”
To address this situation, the nonprofit El Porvenir ( rehabilitated a well
at the school, added a rope pump and constructed a protective slab to protect
the well water from contamination. They also conducted hygiene training with
students and teachers to emphasize the need to wash hands and properly store
water to avoid water-borne illnesses. Now the school pays an affordable monthly
fee for the project’s maintenance and has safe drinking water. The
results of the project were summed up by nine-year-old student Francisca,
“We feel very grateful because now we don’t get sick.”

The list of specific schools in 30 developing countries where a WASH
program was implemented is available at: (


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Water Advocates is the first US-based nonprofit organization dedicated solely to increasing American support for worldwide access to safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of drinking water and adequate sanitation.

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