Children have a right to basic facilities such as school toilets, safe drinking water, clean surroundings and basic information on hygiene. Water, sanitation and hygiene in schools creates an enabling environment which secures children’s dignity, safety, health and attendance in classes. Children are more receptive and quick to adopt and sustain change. They become agents of change among their peers, families and communities. Teachers as influential individuals, supported by the school management committees, play an important catalytic role.
In India, central and state governments have committed to ensure inclusive access to WASH facilities in schools. Policies, programmes and commensurate resource allocations demonstrate the political will.
WaterAid builds on the strong political commitment to promote WASH in schools and focusses on addressing the gap in service delivery, by empowering the school-related institutions to improve and maintain their WASH facilities and education. Our work includes:
- Available information on WASH status in schools is inconsistent and often unreliable. We begin with baseline assessment which is carried out with active participation of children, teachers and school management.
Ensuring access to safe drinking water and sanitation
- Access to a safe water source and extraction facility (deep well or protected sanitary well, with handpump or power pump);
- Drinking water dispenser system to ensure safety in storage and handling;
- Drinking water quality tested and treated if necessary;
- Separate toilets for girls and boys;
- Faecal sludge safely managed (covered leach pits, connection to sewer lines, EcoSan); and
- Doors and adequate lighting to ensure privacy and safety.
Our work on hygiene in schools encompasses:
Regular hygiene education to children through lessons on
- Handwashing before handling food and after contact with faeces;
- Safe handling of drinking water, raised and covered storage with a dispenser tap or ladle;
- Use of toilets;
- Water quality-testing and treating with practical demonstrations;
- Garbage disposal – activity-based education where children actually manage the garbage disposal in the school;
- Recycling waste water (kitchen gardens where space is available or soak pits); and
- Menstrual hygiene in upper primary schools and above (education, access to sanitary napkins, toilets with cleaning and disposal facilities).
• Handwashing facility available close to eating area.
• Learning aids, educational resources and tools.
Capacity and sustainability
- Training of teachers, school cabinet, school management committee and local government and other staff (cooks, cleaners); and
- Financing facilities, operation & maintenance, training, educational resources.
Convergence and advocacy
- Advocacy to activate school-centric programmes like health and nutrition;
- Engagement with governments for increased monitoring and ensuring adherence to standards; and
- Advocate for activating de-worming and nutrition supplements programmes in schools.
Water, sanitation and hygiene in school makes a visible impact on the health and hygiene of children through improvement in their health and hygiene practices, and those of their families and the communities. It improves the curriculum and teaching methods while promoting hygiene practices and community ownership of water and sanitation facilities within schools.