Helmsley Charitable Trust Awards $10 Million for WASH Initiatives in West Africa

Catholic Relief Services has announced three grants totaling more than $10 million from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust in support of efforts to improve sanitation and access to clean water and health care in two West African nations.

One of the grants will support efforts in Ghana to build a hundred and twenty low-cost child-friendly latrines with hand-washing facilities at schools in remote and rural areas, as well as initiatives to promote hygienic practices and improved nutrition. CRS also will use its savings-based microfinance methodology to help parents with their children’s school fees. "Many schools…in Ghana lack safe water and sanitary latrines for the students," said Lisa Washington-Sow, CRS’s country representative in Ghana. "Those unhealthy conditions and the lack of privacy often result in illness and poor student attendance, especially for adolescent girls. The support of the Helmsley Trust will enable CRS to improve the well-being of more than a hundred thousand children and their families and help students stay in school."

A second grant will be used by CSR to teach community members and children at more than a hundred primary schools in Burkina Faso key hygiene practices such as hand washing, using a latrine, and safely handling drinking water. "Nearly half of the population in Burkina Faso doesn’t have access to safe drinking water, and access to sanitation in rural areas is at less than 10 percent, placing the country in the bottom ten globally for sanitation coverage," said Bangre Moussa Dominique, CRS’s country representative in Burkina Faso. "Schools become incredibly important in influencing young children to change their behaviors."

The third grant will enable CRS to expand its work to improve access to and the quality of health services in rural areas in northern Ghana by providing fifty motor-tricycles equipped to serve as rural ambulances and helping communities develop ambulance-management plans. With a focus on women and children, the project also will ensure that rural health clinics have essential medical supplies, promote behavior changes in seeking health care at clinics, and use traditional birth attendants as well as clinic staff to deliver quality health care.

"In Ghana, limited access to formal health care facilities remains a key challenge in the healthcare delivery system," said Washington-Sow. "The Helmsley grant enables us to help approximately eight hundred and fifty thousand vulnerable people, mainly women and children, to access quality health care when they need it."

"Catholic Relief Services Receives Grants to Improve the Health of Thousands of Children and Their Families in West Africa" Catholic Relief Services Press Release 02/11/2014.