[In the Field] WASH Program: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene

May 2, 2007
Kristen Mangelinkx from UNICEF's Boston office is blogging on her trip to Madagascar. This is her fifth post. We flew back to Antananarivo in the pouring rain yesterday afternoon after a quick tour of the vanilla factory there. Vanilla is a major export for Madagascar and we saw how the vanilla is purchased from the growers, sorted, and prepared for shipment to the U.S., Europe and Japan. We also saw the women and men who work in the factory--a steady job that only earns them about $1 per eight-hour day of work. This morning we traveled about an hour north of Antananarivo to visit a primary school where UNICEF has implemented the WASH program, which stands for water, sanitation, and hygiene. The school was equipped with latrines, sinks with running water from a well, and plenty of education materials in the classroom about best practices for hygiene. UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health to implement this in more schools as only about 25% of schools in Madagascar have latrines and running water. During the visit, our group had the chance to use the latrines. We leave Madagascar tomorrow evening after our debriefing. This week has gone by so quickly and we have experienced so much. I think we are all looking forward to returning to the comforts of home, but we have certainly formed an attachment to Madagascar and the mothers and children we have met here. KM