The goal of SWASH+ was not just to measure the impact of school WASH programs, but to understand the barriers for schools to maintain these programs in the long term. It also sought to increase the financial and human resources schools invested in WASH.
SWASH+ can categorize its work into three main areas: studies, advocacy, and tools.
CARE worked with Emory University and Great Lakes University of Kisumu to research what worked most effectively for school WASH programs that could last for the long term. Research partners worked with the Government of Kenya from the beginning to ensure that the government would use the evidence and research to make policy decisions. That included doing research on questions the government identified as key priorities. For example, Georgetown University looked at feasible options to improve monitoring and governance strategies for school WASH in areas of central and coastal Kenya, and Emory University and CARE conducted a study on the costs of implementing and maintaining school WASH infrastructure.
Subsequent phases of SWASH+ studies focused on challenges in urban schools and the feasibility and costs of utilizing a private sector service to improve sanitation in schools with limited space. Sanergy worked with Emory University on this multi-year study. Additionally, CARE and Emory conducted a study on the costs of school WASH in urban schools, combining data on costs for rural schools.
The project prioritized influencing the Government of Kenya to change its policies around school WASH, and helping the national government answer key questions. CARE advocacy staff met regularly with key personnel from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health to discuss the implications of findings and to influence the direction of policies, campaigns, and budgets. SWASH+ and others were able to convince the Ministry of Education to increase (more than once!) its budget allocation for school WASH. Additionally, a focus on girls’ attendance and participation in school, and the need for provision of sanitary pads, became a large focus of the Government of Kenya due to the advocacy work of the SWASH+ program.
The SWASH+ team worked to make sure that schools, local governments, and national policy makers had the evidence and tools they needed to budget and plan for sustainable WASH infrastructure and services.
SWASH+ proved that investing in WASH meant healthier students who had higher school attendance. It also convinced the government of Kenya to invest more money in WASH for local schools, and gave schools the tools they needed to budget and plan for WASH over the long term.