Finland will support in 2020-2021 UNICEF'S water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme by a total of 3 million euros. Those funds will be mainly dedicated to provide quality drinking water and sanitation facilities for schools and health centres, informed the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Finland has contributed to this programme in since 2010.
According to the department led by Pekka Haavisto, the programme aims to improve the quality and availability of clean drinking water, guarantee better sanitation especially in schools, and promote good hygiene practices.
In 2018, approximately 200,000 people gained access to safe drinking water and more than half a million people got sanitation facilities through the programme. Among the beneficiaries were 15,000 schoolchildren.
Prevent the spread of diseases
In Afghanistan, the majority of deaths for children under the age of five are caused by waterborne diseases. Half of diarrhoeal diseases could be prevented by handwashing. It is estimated that one out of four children dies before their fifth birthday.
Approximately one sixth of the rural population are still without proper toilets and handwashing facilities. In this sense, there is considerable regional variation within the country and between cities and rural areas.
UNICEF aims to improve water quality for 280,000 people and to provide 630,000 people with access to sanitation by 2021 through the WASH programme. This includes appropriate water points and sanitation facilities for 100 schools and 100 health centres.
Precarious security situation
The programme concentrates on measures that develop good hygiene practices and promote children’s –especially girls’– access to education.
In 2020–2021, the size of UNICEF’s WASH budget is approximately 25 million US dollars (22.53 million euros), of which Finland’s share is EUR 3 million. In 2019, Finland’s funding for the programme was 4.3 million euros. In addition to Finland, the project is funded by the United States, South Korea and Germany.
The precarious security situation in Afghanistan and insufficient funding complicate the programme’s development. "The lack of skilled labour and competent female workers also hampers the programme’s implementation," says the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.