The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) understands the importance of bringing clean water to people throughout Afghanistan. Through its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program, UNICEF aims to provide households with reliable clean water, which will enable them to adopt healthy hygiene behaviors and ultimately improve health outcomes throughout the nation. The project involves collaboration with government agencies, as well as other United Nations organizations and a variety of non-governmental organizations based throughout Afghanistan.
At the heart of WASH is its commitment to constructing and rehabilitating wells and other water systems in communities around Afghanistan. Other initiatives involve the creation of water quality management mechanisms and the promotion of methods to purify household water. UNICEF also supports the installation of sanitation facilities in individual homes and education programs that focus on the importance of hand washing in the prevention of disease. Each year, about 500,000 Afghan people benefit from these WASH programs.
In addition to its focus on communities, WASH seeks to bring water and sanitation into schools. The program has partnered with Afghan schools to create sanitation facilities, incorporate hygiene education into existing curricula, and set up water delivery systems. Because children can relay important information to their families at home, Schools remain one of the most effective tools in the effort to disseminate hygiene information. School-based programs also acknowledge the unique sanitation needs of young women and seek to establish special facilities to better accommodate adolescent girls.
WASH also prepares for disaster response by teaming in a “cluster” with similar organizations, such as other United Nations agencies, as well as local and national organizations that orchestrate responses to humanitarian crises. In the event of an emergency, these organizations attend to the affected people’s basic needs, which include the provision of clean drinking water and materials for sanitation. Each year, UNICEF and the WASH cluster provide services to about 800,000 Afghan people stricken by disaster.