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WaterAid and Helmsley Partner to Improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Thousands of People in Burkina Faso

Today WaterAid announced the launch of a three-year program to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene, aiming to reach 38,500 people in Burkina Faso.

With a $1.7 million grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, WaterAid will construct or repair clean water facilities and accessible toilet blocks for 50 schools in the Center-East region and provide hygiene education to thousands of students. The surrounding community will gain access to latrines and handwashing facilities. The program will also establish student-led clubs that promote hygiene education and menstrual hygiene management.

“Through better access to clean water, WaterAid shares Helmsley’s commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of vulnerable children in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Trista Kontz-Bartels, Director of Helmsley’s Vulnerable Children in Sub-Saharan Africa Program. “A lack of clean, safe water, reliable toilets, and good hygiene can prevent children and their families from thriving. WaterAid has been an important partner in changing this.”

According to the Government of Burkina Faso, five million residents (27%) still live without improved access to safe water, 14 million people (80%) do not have access to safe sanitation and more than nine million people (55%) currently practice open defecation. Diarrheal diseases pose a major health threat with over 2,800 children under five dying annually from diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.

In 2016, 32% of schools in the country’s Center-East region lacked access to safe water and 40% lacked access to sanitation facilities. These statistics highlight the serious risks posed to student health and school retention rates, especially for adolescent girls who often miss school due to inadequate facilities to manage their periods.

WaterAid has partnered with Helmsley since 2015, implementing water, sanitation and hygiene programs in schools and healthcare facilities in Zambia.

“We are delighted to expand our work with the Helmsley Charitable Trust to reach vulnerable people with clean water in Burkina Faso,” says WaterAid’s U.S. CEO, Sarina Prabasi. “Our community-based approach to hygiene education helps to create lasting behavior change that saves lives and keeps kids in school. Handwashing with soap cuts school sick days in half and teaches children lifelong healthy habits. When communities have access to the basics of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, they are able to thrive.”

In addition to constructing infrastructure, the program will strengthen school governance and provide training to students, teachers and community groups to ensure facilities are maintained over the long term. WaterAid will establish student-led gardens in 20 schools, providing both a sustainable food source and practical education for both teachers and students on topics such as composting, crop management, seed germination and growth.

About WaterAid

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international nonprofit organization works in more than 30 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective organizations in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning its active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $2 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes.