Posted by Narayan Murarka, Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club, District 6440 PRID Jorge Aufranc, Francisco Viau, Club Rotario Guatemala Sur, Distracto 4250 on Sep 17, 2018
Within developing countries, unsafe water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene together create a high-risk situation for school age children leading to disease and contribute to deaths from malnutrition.  Unsafe water is not only linked with health, it also affects education for children.  When they get sick from diarrhea and other water borne diseases, school attendance is severely affected.  The impact/consequences are poor education and challenges for better future. 
The adolescent girls in schools have unique added challenges due to lack of menstrual hygiene knowledge, resources and facilities.  Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) has three facets: replacing the silence and shame of menstruation with pride and confidence; equipping women and girls with the knowledge and means to manage their menstruation hygienically and with dignity; and providing means for the safe disposal of menstrual waste.  Providing MHM in schools encourages adolescent girls to continue their education, improving their long-term development and self-confidence.
This is the “status quo” in rural parts of Guatemala with significant indigenous population.  The Rotary Foundation, through its initiative “Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) in Schools (WinS),” is intervening to improve education quality and access – particularly for girls.  UNICEF is working in more than 95 countries with the WinS program.  WinS became a priority for The Rotary Foundation recently and is being implemented as a pilot project in Guatemala, Honduras and India.
The key feature of WinS is to leverage off from water and sanitation related efforts and connect them with health, hygiene and education.  Addressing health and hygiene training while developing water and sanitation projects may have a profound positive impact on the overall health of a community while benefitting education for boys and girls.  
About WinS:  In February 2018, The Rotary Foundation (TRF) awarded $562,000 competitive challenge grant (PG1790001) to our team of Club Rotario Guatemala Sur, Rotary Club of Antigua, Rotary District 4250 and Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club, Rotary District 6440 addressing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, (WASH) in Schools (WinS). 
A total of 15,778 children (8,236 boys and 7,542 girls) between the ages of 3 to 18 from 48 schools in Sacatepéquez department of Guatemala, will have 24/7 access to clean water and sanitation facilities with emphasis on education and training for health, hygiene and menstrual health management.
The program goals are twofold:
  • Hardware: Construction of WASH facilities with 24/7 access to clean water
  • Software:  Education, training for health, hygiene and menstrual hygiene management (MHM)
WASH Facilities
  • Access to clean safe water is provided with Sawyer SP 202 water filter based on 0.1 Micron Absolute Hollow Fiber Membrane technology.
  • Handwashing and drink stations are critical for improved health and education.  Handwashing stations are being built with multiple faucets.
  • Gender segregated toilets will be built. Photos show the BEFORE and AFTER toilets.
  • Restroom with toilet and sink for girls to meet their needs during menstrual cycle to guarantee washing, changing and menstrual waste disposal with privacy.
Education & Training
  • Improve the quality of education and access, especially for girls, training of teachers and parents
  • Effective health and hygiene training program to encourage formation of cleaning habits and promote cultural behavioral change.
  • Menstrual hygiene management program focused on the biology of menstruation cycle and safe practices.  The goal is to prevent girls from dropping out of school
  • Incorporate lessons in school curriculum
  • Improved capacities
Alliances with key stakeholder from local to national authorities
For the successful deployment of the WinS program, alliances have been established with the following stakeholders from local to national level.  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or letter of support has been executed with each party.  The MOU/letters clearly outline the roles, responsibilities and obligation of each organization who has committed resources to support the WinS program.  Highlights of their commitments are provided below:
Ministerio de Salud Publica y asistencia Social
  • Conduct chemical-bacteriological analysis of water
  • Treatment of diseases of students at Health Centers
  • Promote WinS program within the community
Ministerio de Educación
  • Allow teachers and students to participate in training sessions
  • Include training material in the basic national WASH and MHM curriculum
  • Facilitate access to schools for construction of WASH facilities
  • Support Rotarian activities at school level
Asociación de Municipalidades de Sacatepéquez (AMSAC)
  • Provide, at no cost to Rotary or program, the skilled hand labor
  • Advocate at the COCODE level to provide unskilled hand labor from the community
  • Provide through the Municipalities technical and logistics support for the correct execution of the program
  • Provide through the Technical Planning Office of the Municipalities design of sanitary facilities
  • Guarantee the sustainability of the program and facilities through regular follow-up
  • Guarantee through the Municipalities the maintenance of the facilities for the long run
Inauguration Ceremony:  The WinS Project was launched on April 6, 2018 with an inauguration ceremony held in Antigua. Dignitaries from each of our governmental stakeholders were present and spoke about their support and commitment to the project.  Also present were the Majors from each of the eleven plus municipalities and Principals from many of the 48 schools.  Approximately 130 persons attended including many Rotarians, teachers and community people. Photo shows the key representatives of governmental stakeholders.
The award of this grant now presents an opportunity to begin putting all our plans into action to help children, with emphasis on improving education for girls.  In addition to active engagement by the host and international Rotary clubs, we have created alliances with municipal governments, school authorities and local community of the Sacatepéquez Department in Guatemala. Our team is well positioned to implement all aspects of the project and make a positive impact on boys and girls alike.
Contact Info:  Narayan Murarka