Written by Syed Shah Nasir, April 2015
In many rural areas across Pakistan, school children have to use toilets which are in bad condition and are unhygienic, which have a negative effect on their physique and their behavior in school. As well as a lack of clean and safe toilets, many schools also lack a clean and safe water source, so school girls are forced to miss classes in order to collect water from the neighbourhood.
EWP member, IRSP, are seeking to change this by mobilising school children and teachers to claim their human right to an accessible clean water source within the school grounds. This was done as IRSP’s participation in End Water Poverty’s World Walks for Water and Sanitation event.
As a result of these actions, these communities will be raising their voices during the upcoming local elections, in order to force the political leadership to invest more in sanitation and water provision in schools – which, in turn, will prevent the spread of disease, enabling children to attend all their lessons. Parents will also be approaching the Parents Teacher Associations to contribute more funds for WASH services.
While it is essential that communities are empowered to claim their rights, IRSP have also targeted key decision makers – to ensure they uphold their responsibility to realise the rights for all. IRSP met with members of the Provincial Assembly and the Health Department to make them aware of their responsibility to realise the right to water and sanitation and to call on them to increase the budget for water and sanitation services. As a result of this meeting, the decision makers have promised to raise the issue within the Provincial Assembly and will work together to generate legislation to ensure the human right to water and sanitation is realised for all.
Syed Shah Nazir is Executive Director of IRSP, a multi-sector development organization working on integrated approaches to bring sustainable development in Pakistan and the surrounding region. Established in 1996, IRSP has now transformed itself into a resource organization for capacity building in Pakistan. For more information, visit their website: www.irspo.ork.pk