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Parma 2010: The right to safe water and sanitation in schools

WECF Side Event at Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, Parma 2010

17.03.2010 | WECF press release



The Parma draft ministerial declaration says “we will strive to provide each child with access to safe water and sanitation in homes, child care centres, kindergartens, schools, health care institutions and public recreational water settings by 2020, and to revitalize hygiene practices”

WECF organised a side event on “the right to safe water and sanitation in schools”, which is an issue seemingly forgotten by policy makers. Participants from NGOs, ministries of environment of Moldova, Germany, France, Switzerland, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme, shared experience and proposed policy improvement for the national and international level. WHO recommended to review the accessibility criteria for drinking water as defined by the Joint Monitoring Programme, based on the experience presented from fetching water in mid-winter conditions.

The hygienic and sanitary conditions of many rural school toilets in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (the EECCA region) are in  very bad condition. Many schools do not have any possibility for washing hands or drinking safe water. Hygienic conditions are often deplorable, and well water is often polluted by nitrates and faecal bacteria, impacting on pupils‘ health. Even in European Union member states, sanitation conditions in schools are often not hygienic, as surveys from several countries, including Germany and France, show.

WECF's experience of 10 years in implementing school sanitation programmes in Eastern Europe and the EECCA region, has shown that local governments and national authorities remain mostly inactive, despite clear evidence provided on severe hygiene deficits in schools and pollution in drinking water. The lack of awareness, funding programmes and policy priorities are several of the barriers identified. The Water & Health Protocol, is one of the instruments to assure safe water and sanitation for all, including in schools. This side event will address barriers and catalysts to assure that the Parma Ministerial Declaration CEHAPE targets can be achieved.

The programme included panel debates and discussions with representatives of the Water & Health Protocol financial instrument (AHPFM), the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organisation Europe, Ministries of Environment and Health for the EU-EECCA region, science and civil society. Speakers will a.o. present results of a survey on sanitation in German schools and results of demonstration school sanitation projects in the EECCA region and Water Safety Plans developed by rural schools.

Questions addressed by the speakers included:
  • How to combine safe sanitation and environmental protection with the promotion of children’s health and well-being at schools (Water & Health Protocol)
  • Can safe and sustainable school sanitation be realised in rural areas lacking water supply and sewerage?
  • How to finance safe and sustainable school sanitation?
  • Can the development of Water Safety Plans with the involvement of schools contribute to the implementation of the Protocol
  • on Water & Health?
The side event was  organised by WECF – Women in Europe for a Common Future (Netherlands/France/Germany)

In cooperation with :
  • UNDP Regional Centre for Europe & CIS
  • WHO-Europe, Water and Sanitation
  • Mama 86 Ukraine
  • European Eco-Forum
  • Armenian Women for Health and a Healthy Environment
  • German Toilet Organisation

Invitiation to 'The Right to Safe Water and Sanitation in Schools'.
Implementing the Parma Ministerial Declaration and the Protocol on Water & Health, Side Event: SE 1, WECF “the Right to Safe Water and Sanitation in Schools”

ABSTRACT Drinking water quality of wells in villages of western Georgia

Manana Devidze. Scientific researcher of Institute of Biology and Medicine problems of Sokhumi State University

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