UniWASH – Unicef



UniWASH is a 3-year project run by UNICEF Finland, the country office for the world’s leading children’s rights organization. UniWASH brings together UNICEF, academia and the private sector to develop human rights-based water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) innovations for Ugandan school children.


UniWASH is a three-year-multi-stakeholder-project by UNICEF in collaboration with Finnish universities that was initially launched in 2014.


The project targets Acholiland, a region that is recovering from a 20-year long civil war and a severe humanitarian crisis. Primary schools in the area lack resources and struggle to fulfil children’s right to adequate sanitation during their school day.


The multidisciplinary project team of 30 students from Finnish and Ugandan universities spent a total of five weeks in rural Acholiland to better understand the realities of the unique context. We engaged with the locals in workshops, group discussions and in-depth interviews, building a comprehensive picture of the local ecosystem and the WASH challenges people face in their daily lives. Some of the key root causes to the identified challenges included:

  • Filled-up dry toilets - high student-to-toilet stance ratio

  • Sustainability of behavioural change

  • Low levels of participation and sense of ownership

  • Lack of funds on all levels of society


Our proposed concept, a holistic model for utilizing human waste-based fertilizer in farming, tackles these underlying problems in order to create positive, sustainable change. We aim to increase WASH knowledge and participation in communities, secure livelihoods for Acholi people and improve children’s access to safe, functioning toilets during their school day.


Joonas Ala-Karvia, Yuan Cao, Derek Chan, Vytautas Gudaitis, Vilma Hämäläinen, Pilvi Iso-Markku, Saila Kivilahti, Linda Sivander