Water, sanitation and hygiene

UNICEF provides technical assistance to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water, eliminate open defecation and improve access to adequate sanitation as well as improve good hygiene practices. Interventions focus on indigenous groups in remote rural areas to provide services at household level as well as in schools. School sanitation facilities are constructed to be gender-friendly with separate toilets for boy and girls. In addition, UNICEF is starting to work in menstrual hygiene management which encompasses gender, protection, and physical health issues around WASH services. UNICEF also supports emergency preparedness and interventions during humanitarian emergencies, ensuring families have access to safe water.

Main achievements in 2015

Completion of a MHM study in Beni. UNICEF continued this year to implement its Hygiene

sample-image Promotion strategy using cross-sectoral, equity-based, intercultural approaches. The engagement of communities was critical to ensuring sustainable solutions to water delivery and sanitation systems. MHM is now promoted as a “key hygiene practice” to strengthen hygiene promotion and has incorporated this line of action to existing policies, and establishing cross-sectoral allies. Within this framework, a new study on challenges faced by girls during menstruation at school is being carried out in two municipalities of Beni. UNICEF’s hygiene strategy is becoming more visible, whereby the Ministries of Education, and Water and Environment, officially presented a set of tools to train teachers in the three hygiene practices, as well as other WASH issues.

Cost-effective interventions to improve access to water and sanitation

UNICEF continued to further develop technical assistance and promote cost-effective interventions in order to address the main bottlenecks to water and sanitation access by promoting hygiene. These initiatives helped to achieve the following outcomes contributed to improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene:

• 64,400 inhabitants now have a water service via national programmes and projects in 103 schools (roughly 15,030 women, 14,970 men, and 7,895 under-fives).

• 30,000 inhabitants now have a sanitation service via national programmes and projects (roughly 32,264 women, 32,136 men, and 3,678 under-fives).


The Ministry of Environment and Water (MMAyA) and all of its decentralised units, both at the national and subnational levels; Universidad Nur; Save the Children; Water For People and Sumaj Huasi to generate evidence, support the subnational levels, conduct training, and develop pilot projects.

Geographic focus and population focus

The departments of Beni (Guayamerin, Loreto, Santa Ana del Yacuma, San Andrés, San Borja, San Ignacio de Moxos, San Javier, San Joaquín, San Ramón, Reyes, Riberalta, Rurrenabaque andTrinidad), Pando, Potosí (Potosi and Betanzos), Chuquisaca and Cochabamba.

Reducing school dropouts with appropriate hygiene promotion and menstrual hygiene management (MHM)

Through this project, UNICEF has the specific goal of retaining girls in school by improving their knowledge and hygiene practices including menstrual hygiene management (MHM).

In 2013, UNICEF published a qualitative study highlighting the challenges faced by girls in schools as their menstruation begins. This study pointed to the lack of appropriate information, support and materials to manage hygiene during menstruation and to the poor state of the WASH facilities in most educational establishments, which increases the stress and difficulties faced by girls to attend, concentrate and participate actively in school. Additionally, menstruation is often a subject of many taboos, myths and stigma that adds discomfort to young girls and adolescents. The study came up with important recommendations, pointing at the need for intervention strategies, validated by girls, and culturally and environmentally contextualized.

Thirteen schools in three rural municipalities of Cocapata, Tacopaya, and Independencia of Cochabamba were selected to carry out hygiene promotion interventions, including MHM, through an education programme based on life skills. An important innovation in the project was the introduction of MHM to the three key hygiene practices traditionally promoted. These included relevant gender considerations underlining the different needs of men and women regarding water, sanitation and hygiene.