Katherine Ondoga is seen washing her hands outside newly built latrines at her school in Kenya. Illustrations on the walls promote healthy hygiene behaviours such as hand washing and drinking safe water.

Katherine Ondoga is 12 years old and goes to school in Naros Village in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. She helps to promote healthy behaviours among her peers at school.

“I am part of the Water and Sanitation Committee for my community and school,” says Katherine. “We have a committee of schoolchildren [to] make sure that all of the children in our school are clean and keep certain hygiene rules. UNICEF has just built new latrines at our school – one for the girls, and one for the boys. There is also a shower in each block, and a basin for washing our hands. We teach other children… [to] wash their hands after they use the toilet so they don’t get sick. The committee makes sure that the toilets are cleaned every day and that people respect them. There is also a water pump [for the community]…. Our community had problems with water before these pumps came. Women and girls would have to walk a very long way to collect water. This meant that a lot of girls didn’t come to school. The water pump means that more girls are now coming to school and this is good for the community.”

The school facilities and committee are part of a UNICEF-supported village Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme. Factors related to WASH affect children’s right to education in many ways. In an atmosphere of poor health, children are unable to fulfil their full potential.

UNICEF and its partners focus resources on improving the health of school-aged children, highlighting the need for hygiene promotion, life skills development and water, sanitation and hand-washing facilities in schools.