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Plan's Expertise Highlighted at Congressional Briefing

October 6, 2010

This morning, Plan International, a leading children’s development organization with offices in 66 countries around the world, joined a coalition of nearly 30 organizations in launching activities to support the need for children and schools in developing countries to have access to better water, sanitation and hygiene.

Throughout the world, more than half of all elementary schools do not have adequate water facilities. This can mean there is no clean water for children to drink, no water for them to use to wash their hands and no water to use to clean toilets or irrigate schools. In addition, nearly two-thirds of schools either do not have toilets or the facilities are in such poor condition that children prefer to use the outdoors. More than two dozen diseases—all triggered by unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene—cause the deaths of 4,500 children a day. One-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water management and expanding access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

To help raise awareness and support around this issue, The Basic Education Coalition and Water Advocates hosted a panel discussion, entitled, “Raising Clean Hands”, A Call to Action for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools. The event was sponsored by the office of Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and attended by more than fifty people including civil society leaders, Congressional staff, and NGO representatives.

Dr. Pamela Young, the Senior Basic Education Advisor at Plan USA, was one of five featured panelists. Dr. Young highlighted Plan-run programs in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Cambodia. These programs are examples of how small investments and working with communities and local government agencies can improve the lives of children and their families. Dr. Young shared Plan’s program strategies, including educational games, child-to-child interaction and the development of basic infrastructure, such as single gender toilets, which have all yielded positive results for the long term.

Joining Dr. Young on the panel was Dennis Warner, Senior Technical Advisor for Water and Sanitation at Catholic Relief Services. Dr. Warner spoke about the pressing need for improving access and quality of water, sanitation, and hygiene in impoverished communities in developing countries, especially in schools. Adding an important voice from the younger generation, two students from HB Woodlawn Secondary School, Delaney Steffen and Mary Shields, spoke passionately about the work their class is doing to bring water and sanitation to a school in Cameroon as part of a project done with H2O for Life. The students emphasized the importance of raising awareness to empower youth in America to take action in issues facing youth in the developing world.

Founded more than 70 years ago, Plan is a child-centered nonprofit organization with no religious or political affiliations. Plan works in 48 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, empowering millions of children, families, and communities to lift themselves out of poverty using methods that are innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable.

For more details contact:

Robin Costello
Director of Communications, Plan USA
(401) 738-5600, ext. 1318