In 1994, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, with an effort to articulate and develop more consistency in health interventions in schools, signed the agreement MINSA/MECD to support the “Healthy Schools” methodology, whose main objective was health promotion in schools. In 1998, the Nicaraguan Public Water and Sewage Enterprise (ENACAL) developed the “Nicaraguan Initiative for Hygiene and Environmental Sanitation” (INHySA). The objective of this initiative was to improve sanitary conditions, thus contributing to the improvement of the population’s quality of life, with greater emphasis on the school population.
In 2001 Nicaragua, along with five other countries, implemented the pilot component of “School Sanitation and Hygiene Education” (SSHE) in 17 schools. The aim was to help improve the health and education of children and adolescents in schools by promoting hygiene habits in a healthy school environment. In the same year, following the important experiences of this project carried out in schools, MINSA, MECD and ENACAL signed the agreement of “Friendly and Healthy Schools Initiative” (IEASA). The agreement aimed to integrate efforts of different sectors in schools and allow other institutions whose work is linked to promoting school hygiene and sanitation, (such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MARENA), to participate in these initiatives.
Between 2001 and 2004, 117 schools joined the “Friendly and Healthy School Initiative”. This initiative is supported by the official purposes of the National Education Plan 2001-2015 and the 2004-2015 National Health Policy. The framework is the integration of 3 regional initiatives adapted to the reality of the country: “New School”, “Health Promoting School” and “Friendly School”, being the central methodology of the entire training process of “Skills for Life”.
In 2009, the Regional Symposium of the sector took place in Nicaragua, with the purpose to share experiences on water, sanitation and hygiene in schools and take the first step to define a common vision to expand these initiatives at national and regional levels. The symposium was jointly organized by the members of the Millennium Water Alliance in charge of the program SWASH+ in Central America: Water For People, CARE, Catholic Relief Service, Plan International, UNICEF (Regional and Country Offices) and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education.
For more than 20 years, UNICEF has supported the development of didactic materials and resources to promote hygiene education in schools. Among the developed materials is the Methodological Compendium “Juanita la gotita”, which includes the Teacher Manual and 7 didactic stories. Furthermore, posters and other materials have been produced, enhancing the messages disseminated by teachers during the school year.
A recently produced adaptation of materials related with the methodology of Healthy School and Home (ESCASAL) supported by UNICEF in their development in Honduras, due to the need to provide a Nicaraguan educational model, with a strategy of health and environment education in water and sanitation projects in rural areas of Nicaragua, with a national impact – considering the reality of the country. The aim was to reach sustainability and allow a higher participation and continuity by the population of the communities involved, promoting behavioral changes and improving hygiene practices with the focus of “total sanitation” in the personal, family, school and community environment.