Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Promotion in Rural Schools in Magdalena

Donor: Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), AquaFund, Japan Special Fund Poverty Reduction Program, Embassy of Japan in Colombia, GE Foundation, Alcaldía Guachené, Corona Organization, Siemens Foundation
Local Allies: Fundación PropalFundación ECSIMFundación Conhydra, Vialsa Ingenieros, CINARA 
Beneficiaries: 3,772 students and their families
Location: Department of Magdalena

In Colombia, over 1 million cases of diarrhea occur every year and 45% of children who drop out of school do so due to diarrhea. In addition, many rural schools in the country lack proper restrooms for students, which forces children to go back home to use the bathroom and affects their chance at an education. To solve this issue, Give To Colombia developed a project that provides proper bathrooms and incorporates a strong component of hygiene into the educational curriculum of the schools.

As part of this intervention, we performed a diagnostic for 32 schools in Magdalena and designed blueprints for sanitary facilities for 25 of these. We then built basic sanitary infrastructure for 10 schools (benefiting over 4,500 students) and we installed filters in 10 other schools to provide students with clean water.

We also implemented a sustainable teaching strategy using our own guidebook “Buscando el tesoro de la salud”, and created 25 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene School Boards or JASHE’s (Juntas de Agua, Saneamiento e Higiene Escolar). These school boards consist of parents, community leaders, school staff, and student leaders, and have improved the sanitary habits of over 8,000 additional students. These school boards have ensured the community’s active participation as the beneficiaries have used their knowledge of the local community to take charge of the program and further  promote the teaching of hygienic practices.

This pilot was one of three components of the project, “Comprehensive Models of Access to Water and Sanitation” in which we set out to design and implement demand-driven and service-oriented pilot programs that would provide scalable and sustainable access to basic water supply and sanitation services in the poorest and most vulnerable areas of Colombia.