There is a draft strategy and action plan for school maintenance, including WASH facilities developed by the World Bank (WB) which is being reviewed. There is school health and environment department within MoE at the national and Governorate level responsible for hygiene and sanitation promotion and School Building department responsible for construction and maintenance of WASH facilities. There are 9 staff in the school health and environment department at National MoE and 4 staff in each Governorate. Child-Friendly Schools Approach, initiated by UNICEF and being adopted by MoE, increased attention to school WASH facilities and promotion activities. AusAID and EC are currently the major donors for WASH in Schools. UNICEF and WHO are key partners for WASH in Schools.
In 2004, UNICEF in coordination with MoE conducted a national school survey with WASH indicators which guided a shift in UNICEF’s WASH programming focus. As the 2004 survey pointed to alarming data on the status of school buildings in general and school WASH facilities in particular, WASH in Schools became a responsibility of UNICEF Iraq’s education section, and the WASH in Schools program was incorporated into the education programme.
Initial resources were mobilized by UNICEF based upon the 2004 survey results targeted WASH in Schools interventions between 2005 and 2008. Investments by the WASH section were limited, between nearly US$8,000 per annum. Meanwhile, driven by pressing emergency rehabilitation and reconstruction needs, the education program focused mainly on rehabilitation of WASH facilities in schools. As a result, a total budget utilized for WASH in Schools by the education section ranged from over US$ 7.8 million in 2005, to US$2.2 million in 2008.
The year 2009 marked a change of paradigm in UNICEF WASH in Schools programming in Iraq. Both the WASH in Schools facilities rehabilitation and upgrading and the software component became fully integrated with the WASH program. This reflected a shift in WASH in Schools programming from ad-hoc interventions both by WASH and education sections, into a comprehensive WASH in Schools programming strategy. This included supporting national WASH in Schools child-friendly design packages, capacity building, hygiene promotion, WASH in Schools infrastructure rehabilitation and upgrading, advocacy for WASH in Schools at all levels, and a detailed WASH in Schools assessment in 2010, including funding support by AusAID for a targeted WASH in Schools and education program in 26 vulnerable districts of over US$9 million. The WASH in Schools budget expenditure grew to from US$640,000 in 2009 and nearly US$ 2.8 Million in 2011.
In 2010, the Government of Iraq allocated about US$ 62 million for the year 2011 to 2014 exclusively for rehabilitation and upgrading of WASH in Schools facilities. Unlike earlier years, which was part of the allocation for school building rehabilitation, this allocation is the first of its kind in Iraq, as it is earmarked for WASH in Schools facilities. Since 2009, about 46 percent of primary school teachers across Iraq have been trained on hygiene promotion to incorporate lessons on improved hygiene practices in science and religious classes.
In the new UNICEF- Government of Iraq Country Program Action Plan (2011-2014), this integrated approach to WASH in Schools programming is reflected though a dedicated intermediate programming result. For the first time, WASH in Schools has a budget allocation exceeding 25 % of total WASH expenditures, hence representing the intermediate program result with the highest budget allocation among the six results areas of the WASH program in Iraq.