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Unicef scales up WASH

- UN organisation to spread initiative to 400 schools

Guwahati, May 8: Unicef is scaling up its WASH (water, hygiene and sanitation) programme to over 400 government schools in Assam.

A Unicef team will pay a field visit to two lower primary schools of Kamrup district tomorrow to review the programme’s implementation in the institutions.

“We will be visiting two schools, Sajjanpara Lower Primary School under Rani block and Dahali Lower Primary School under Rampur block in Kamrup district, to review the progress of the WASH programme initiated two years ago. So far, we have covered 100 schools in Assam and we are looking to scale it up to 320 more government schools here,” Tushar Rane, chief of field office, Unicef, told The Telegraph here today.

Outdoor adventure gear and footwear brand Woodland has associated itself with the programme for the third consecutive year and raised funds to the tune of Rs 1.25 crore to cover 20,000 children across the country so far.

“Under the WASH in Schools programme, we aim to provide clean drinking water and basic sanitation to schools in rural areas. We also teach them to adopt the best practices on hand washing with soap before midday meals for a disease-free and healthy life,” Rane said.

As it is, teams from the local Unicef office review the WASH programme in schools here every three months.

Apart from reviewing implementation of the programme in the two schools tomorrow, the team will also interact with the students.

“We did a mid-line survey in January and have found a three-fold increase (from 30 per cent to 90 per cent since group hand washing was initiated in July 2013) in students washing their hands before midday meals in schools. The target is to achieve 100 per cent during this fiscal,” he said.

The official said that based on Unicef’s results demonstrated by the joint review mission, the Assam government has decided to scale up the programme to cover 10,000 primary schools.

The Unicef-Woodland association started in Maharashtra back in 2012 followed by Rajasthan and other states, including Assam. “Unicef has been a strong partner to our sustainability initiative, Pro-Planet, over the past three years. Under this initiative, we have been partnering with like-minded organisations, like Unicef, WWF and Oxfam, and supporting sustainability campaigns,” Woodland managing director Harkirat Singh said here today.

Woodland has garnered support for the programme through over 480 exclusive stores in the country.

“We started with voluntary collections from our clients and scaled up revenue from limited edition T-shirts specially launched for the programme,” Singh said.