The Ethiopian government is partnering with the World Bank to ensure access to clean water, proper sanitation facilities, and hygiene education within schools.
“Attending school while menstruating was a major challenge for girls due to the unavailability of suitable toilets. Since there were no proper rooms for managing periods, girls often missed 3 to 5 days of school each month. This made it harder for girls to do well in school and more likely for them to drop out, compared to boys,” explains Netsanet Legesse, teacher and supervisor of the Girls’ Club at Jaldessa School in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.
Funding from the World Bank for the One WaSH National Program (OWNP) began in 2014. Today, children are reaping the benefits of the over 5,000 schools already serviced. OWNP is particularly important for young girls, who may also receive additional sanitary pads and soaps, allowing for a greater sense of dignity and increasing regular school attendance. The program has even extended beyond the school and into communities by creating clubs to raise awareness and empathy for menstruation and basic hygiene. Though the 5,390 schools already reached is a good start. Still, only 25% of Ethiopia’s nearly 45,000 schools have access to safe water supply facilities. To help keep expanding, funding for the program is set to continue into 2025.