The panelists and speakers of this year’s WASH in Schools International Learning Exchange took advantage of the momentum generated by the pandemic to use the closing event for a call to action. The 9th WinS ILE was successfully concluded last September 21 after 5 technical sessions over the course of 3 weeks, organized by GIZ, UNICEF, WaterAid, and Save the Children, and co-hosted by SEAMEO. The virtual event was attended by over 250 participants from 22 countries across South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. In his speech, Dr. Myo-Zin Nyunt, Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office, reflected on the progress made to address the WASH situation in the region throughout the years and stressed how the pandemic gave rise to innovative and creative solutions developed by each country to continuously push for WASH agenda.
Inclusivity, climate resilience, and sustainable financing of WinS were just some of the key themes highlighted during the 3-week run of the learning exchange, with 2 technical sessions per week. Each technical session focused on relevant topics and their implications to WASH in Schools, such as lessons learned from the pandemic, climate resilience, sustainable financing, digital transformation, and capacity-building. As side events of the learning exchange, WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) also organized a 2-part session on WASH monitoring, while the Pacific Menstrual Health Network hosted a session about a priority list of indicators for menstrual health and hygiene. Different countries from the regions presented some of their best practices and approach to implement WASH in Schools interventions – from safe school reopening models, digitalization of monitoring systems, to building climate-resilient WinS infrastructures.
As stressed by Mr. Marcus Lange, Division Head (Asia 1) of GIZ, there are a lot of improvements to be proud of, but there is also a tremendous amount of effort needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Targets for WASH in Schools. Reaching the halfway point before 2030, latest data from the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) suggests that there is a great need to accelerate the progress of making basic services of water, sanitation, and hygiene more accessible to everyone. This prompted a call from the panelists and speakers to continuously strengthen each country’s monitoring systems and use of the data for better planning and resource allocation moving forward.
The WinS ILE is an annual event that convenes government officials and stakeholders from South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific to learn about best practices and experiences of implementing WASH in Schools in the regions and strengthen each country’s commitment to ensuring schools can provide basic services of water, sanitation, and hygiene to all students.