A new video highlights the collaboration of the regional Fit for School program with the World Food Program to support the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR in improving nutritional gains through school meals by promoting better hygiene practices in schools.
In Oudomxay Province, Northern Lao PDR, the Fit for School program has partnered with the World Food Program (WFP) to spread the improvement of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools, with a particular focus on the influence of better WASH on nutrition.
In 20 schools that receive school lunch support from WFP, the Fit for School approach uses existing structures to improve WASH by focusing on daily group hygiene activities, such as handwashing and toothbrushing and implementing routine cleaning schedules to maintain the facilities. GIZ and WFP both bring expertise and funding to achieve the joint objective of improving hygiene practices and nutritional gains in schools – led by the Beng District Education Bureau officials to strengthen their role as guides and mentors to school management when it comes to implementing incremental changes in hygiene practices. Spillover effects are already visible – other schools have been inspired by the low-cost and stepwise approach and started constructing their own washing facilities to start with daily group handwashing and toothbrushing before and after lunch.
Around 2,200 primary school students in 20 schools benefit directly from this intervention. An additional 300 children attending pre-schools attached to the target primary schools will also benefit from these enhanced facilities. WFP has also started to provide washing facilities based on the Fit for School design WASHaLOT to more than 30 schools in Luang Prabang province.
The regional Fit for School program also cooperates with the WFP in Cambodia, directly supporting 43 primary schools in Preah Vihear province.
Fit for School started with 22 GIZ-supported model schools in Vientiane Capital in 2011. As of September 2017, there are 1,060 primary schools across all of Lao PDR that implement the Fit for School approach, most of them through the scale-up efforts of the Ministry of Education and Sports and supported by their communities. Fit for School has been adopted by NGOs such as WFP, World Vision, Save the Children, ChildFund and Plan International as the WASH component of their support to schools in the country.