Iceland gives funds to UNICEF to boost Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in 600 schools

The Government of the Republic of Iceland has given UNICEF US$300,000 (approx. 1.1bn Uganda Shillings) to provide critical hand washing facilities and supplies to 400 government-aided primary and secondary schools across the country, to control the transmission of COVID-19.

An additional 200 schools supported by UNICEF in 2020-2021 will receive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) supplies only. The supplies to be given to the 600 schools with the Government of Iceland funding are: liquid soap, bleach, boots, gloves, cleaning mops, sprayers, and alcohol-based sanitizers to promote proper hygiene practices in the benefiting schools. To support adequate use of the WASH packages, the benefiting schools will ensure availability of water and manpower for effective cleaning of school facilities and hygiene promotion.

The schools will also receive several child friendly posters reminding schoolchildren about the importance of personal hygiene and handwashing with soap and clean water.

Provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene conditions plays an essential role in protecting populations from infections during pandemics including the COVID-19 outbreak. Moreover, availability of water remains crucial to support personal hygiene including handwashing with clean water and soap as a key preventive measure of COVID-19 and regular cleaning and disinfection within the school premises.

The support from the Iceland Government is timely now that schools are continuing with Term One lessons. With this contribution, UNICEF through the Ministry of Education and Sports, respective district local governments and school administrations will boost hygiene and keep schoolchildren safe in selected schools amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Iceland is committed to supporting efforts towards eradication of disease, illiteracy and poverty globally. In Uganda, the COVID-19 pandemic has had adverse effects on health, learning, and livelihoods of communities. The most affected are children especially girls, and youth. The WHO and CDC emphasize handwashing with soap as a practice that could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea and 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections including COVID-19. This improves school attendance leading to improved child development,” said Þórdís Sigurðardóttir, Head of Mission, Embassy of Iceland.

“As a country that upholds human rights in all its strategic interventions, Iceland recognises the role played by UNICEF in promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child globally. We are glad to contribute to UNICEF’s mission through our modest support that will be used to improve handwashing facilities and practises in 600 schools in Uganda,” she asserted.

In Uganda, schools have been open since January 2022. To ensure they remain open, investments in infection prevention and control through adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are key and will contribute to limiting exposure to the disease and probability of its transmission amongst pupils, students, teachers, and non-teaching staff within the schools.

“Inadequate WASH services in schools and communities can result into poor health and increase several diseases like diarrhoea, infections, malnutrition, water-borne diseases among others which all hinder the growth of children. With this additional funding from the Iceland Government, UNICEF will contribute to the reduction of water-borne and poor hygiene related diseases in 600 schools,” said Dr. Munir Safieldin, UNICEF Representative in Uganda.

“As the Government of Uganda continues to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is important that schools remain open to benefit millions of children currently catching up on what was missed when schools closed. The Iceland support will ensure safe and continued learning to benefit children especially the most marginalized that were most affected by the pandemic,” Dr. Safieldin added.