Every member of the affected community under the age of 18 is classed as a child and protected by the UN Rights of the Child.
Children under the age of 18 are major stakeholders in an emergency and may comprise over 50% of the population.
Children’s lives are particularly disrupted by emergencies and young children are especially vulnerable to WASH related disease and death.
Involving children in WASH activities can improve their physical and psychosocial health as well as that of the whole community. By giving children tools and knowledge to change their behaviour, what they learn is often shared with the rest of the family and applied for the rest of their lives - an effective way to ensure the long-term sustainability of a WASH programme’s impact.
WASH staff should ensure that:
- The WASH needs of girls and boys of different ages are assessed through consultation with parents and children themselves.
- Children are actively listened to and where possible they are given a say in how the WASH programme is delivered.
- They are aware of child protection issues and what they can do to ensure the safeguarding of children
- The specific NFI related needs for children are addressed.
- Child labour is avoided. If children are involved in WASH activities that could be perceived as child labour e.g. a clean up campaign, this should be clearly discussed and agreed with local authorities and parents beforehand.
- The design and siting of WASH facilities are appropriate for children and they are involved in this process.