UNICEF celebrates 50 years of partnership with Bhutan

The United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF celebrated 50 years of its partnership with Bhutan, yesterday. Marking the celebration in Zhemgang, UNICEF Bhutan inaugurated an inclusive toilet at Zhemgang Lower Secondary School. UNICEF has supported the construction of five inclusive toilets in monastic schools across the country benefitting more than 300 child monks and nuns including those with disabilities.

Today, Bhutan is open defecation-free and close to achieving universal coverage of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene or WASH facilities in schools.

The inclusive toilet at Zhemgang Lower Secondary School is one such WASH facility the UNICEF has supported in schools with Special Needs programmes.

“Keeping children safe with clean water and toilets is just one of the ways UNICEF works with the Royal Government of Bhutan to support children, mothers, and young people,” said  Noala Skinner, deputy regional director, South Asia, UNICEF.

“If I share a few facts and data today, 92 per cent of schools in Bhutan have access to safe drinking water and 97 per cent have improved sanitation. This achievement is largely due to support from development partners such as UNICEF over the years. And our efforts should not stop here and going forward, we should aim to achieve 100 per cent,” said Kesang Jigme, Zhemgang Dzongda.

Partnering with UNICEF, the education and skills development ministry will construct inclusive toilets in schools with SEN programmes in the next two years.

UNICEF first started its work with Rural Water Sanitation and Hygiene Programme in Bhutan in 1974 in Trashigang and Tsirang.

Pema Samdrup, Zhemgang

Edited by Sonam Pem

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