“A-WASH Supports the Development of Safe Water, Hygiene and Sanitation in Schools”
Lida Becerra, Self-Help Coordinator at the United States Embassy in Cameroon
What is A-WASH?
A-WASH stands for the Ambassador's Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools Initiative. The goal of the A-WASH program is to support the development of safe water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education in schools. With this initiative U.S. Embassies around the world partner with local NGOs to implement a project to provide WASH services to schools. The Ambassador and other high-level officials are actively involved in the program doing diplomatic outreach and conveying key messages about the importance of WASH in schools for health, education, and gender equality.
How many schools are participating in A-WASH in Cameroon?
At this moment we have one school. On September 2011, the U.S. Embassy Yaoundé and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a local NGO, signed an agreement to jointly support A-WASH at the Saint André Primary and Nursery School in Pouma (Littoral Region). Pouma is a small city located midway between Yaounde and Douala, the two largest cities in Cameroon. The combined effort to launch the A-WASH program in this school added up to $18,000. This included a contribution of $8,000 from the U.S. Embassy, $5,000 from CRS, $4,000 from Millennium Water Alliance, and $1,000 from the community. The A-WASH project at the Saint André Primary and Nursery School includes the construction of a borehole to provide potable water; separate latrines for boys and girls; and hand-washing stations. Additionally, as part of the project, the school will be conducting educational hygiene and sanitation activities. The project will be completed in the summer of 2012 and will benefit almost 200 students and teachers at the school and more than 2,000 residents in the vicinity.
Why is A-WASH implemented only at schools?
There are many good reasons to implement this program at schools. (1) Providing potable water, latrines, had washing stations, as well as sanitation and hygiene education to school children will lead to a healthier and better educated student body. (2) School attendance increases, particularly for girls who tend to skip school due to the lack of latrines. (3) Students will act as ambassadors of good sanitation and hygiene practices by bringing home the lessons learned at school. (4) Additionally, the program will have a positive ripple effect in other areas beyond health and education such as gender equality, environmental stewardship, community empowerment, and governance.
Is the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon working on other water and sanitation programs?
Absolutely. For many years, the USG has supported water and sanitation projects in Cameroon through programs such as the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund (SSH), USDA’s Food for Education program, and USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. For example, in March 2011, using SSH funds, the Embassy supported the construction of seven wells and two blocks of latrines. More recently, in September 2011, the Embassy funded a $ 80,000 water and sanitation project with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to construct household latrines, hand-washing stations, and boreholes. The A-WASH Initiative will provide additional opportunities for the Embassy to convey the commitment to support water, sanitation, and hygiene programs for the improvement of health, education, and gender equality in Cameroon.
Where can someone find more information about A-WASH?
If you are interested in learning more about the A-WAS program you can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call the U.S. Embassy at 2220-1500, or write a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde.
Address: Embassy of the United States of America B.P. 817 Yaoundé