UniWASH Project - Human Rights Based Innovations in Schools 

The project develops innovative solutions to water, sanitation and hygiene related problems for school children in Uganda. It also develops a model to partner with governments, academia, and private sector to improve the lives of children.

Workshop with adolescent girls at Pabbo Primary School in Northern Uganda.  © UNICEF/Uganda 2015/Suihkonen
Workshop with adolescent girls at Pabbo Primary School in Northern Uganda. © UNICEF/Uganda 2015/Suihkonen

UNICEF is looking into new innovative ways to partner with governments, academia and private sector to bring sustainable development and improve the lives of children.

UniWASH project is an example of this innovation work. It is not merely looking into technical innovations but innovative ways for development. UniWASH project concentrates mainly on water, sanitation and hygiene related issues but the partnership model built through this project can be used in other sectors as well.

The overall goal of the UniWASH project is to ensure that girls´ and boys´ right to clean water and adequate sanitation and hygiene conditions are fulfilled in Acholiland, Northern Uganda. The project purpose is to develop a human rights based UNICEF-Academia-Private Sector innovation model and implement it to address WASH related problems in Uganda.

Duration: 2014-2016

Partners: UNICEF, Makerere University, Aalto University, Helsinki University, Biolan Ltd, six Ugandan SMEs

Budget: 1,1 M Euros

Donors: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Finnish National Committee for UNICEF

Key Expected Results

  • Capacity of private sector, academia, and stakeholders, including children themselves, enhanced to ensure development of human rights based, socio-culturally appropriate WASH inventions.
  • Innovative concepts and hardware solutions developed to solve the identified WASH problems in partnership with private sector.
  • Capacity on product development and marketing, and child rights business principles enhanced and conceptualized among private sector partners.
  • Knowledge transfer and lessons learnt collected for evidence base.

Expected Outputs

  • products/systems/designs/concepts that can be locally manufactured, applied and scaled up through partnerships
  • research projects that support the development of solutions
One of the jointly developed solutions is a hand-washing tap which conserves water and reduces time children need to spend on fetching water during school days.
One of the jointly developed solutions is a hand-washing tap which conserves water and reduces time children need to spend on fetching water during school days.

Principles of collaboration

1. Child Rights Based

Innovative water, sanitation and hygiene solutions stem from children´s everyday experiences that are voiced by the girls and boys participating in the project. The solutions are implemented through the UNICEF programme.

2. Innovation Principles

  • equity-based, gender lens, user-centered design, built on experience, scalability, openness, sustainability, environmentally-aware.
  • innovations tailored to utilise local resources, encouraging local production and ownership.

3. Impact

  • projects designed to enhance UNICEF country programme and national development goals
  • innovations and partnerships developed and evaluated for long-term impact
  • multi-sectoral collaboration enables implementation and scaling up of products and systems to have long-term impact on the lives of people

Further information

Päivi Kovalainen, Project Manager, Finnish Committee for UNICEF
+358 50 309 5229, paivi.kovalainen@unicef.fi

- UniWASH in Facebook
- 10.12.2015 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Gave the Thumbs-up To uniWASH Project
- Blog post 18.12.2014: Innovating Alongside the End-User

Human rights based approach in development cooperation