Lack of decent school toilets jeopardises 620 million children, warns WaterAid

Keya (13), dressing up her scarf before leaving the washroom. The school toilet was decorated for the students and was supported by WaterAid. WaterAid is calling on Governments to invest more money in sanitation for all and ensure an integrated approach and improved transparency in monitoring and reporting. (Image Credit: Rasel Chowdhury / WaterAid).

THE health, education and safety of millions of children around the world is threatened because they don’t have a decent toilet at school or at home, according to WaterAid’s State of the World’s Toilets 2018 Report.

The Crisis in the Classroom, WaterAid’s fourth-annual analysis of the world’s toilets was released ahead of World Toilet Day, Monday, November 19, highlights that one in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally do not have any toilets. Guinea-Bissau on the coast of West Africa tops the table for worst in the world for school toilets, while Ethiopia remains the nation with the most people without household toilets.

A shocking one in three of the world’s schools lack adequate toilets, compromising children’s human rights to sanitation and leaving them to either use dirty, unsafe pits, go in the open, or stay at home.

Closer to Australia, Papua New Guinea comes third in the list of countries where the proportion of people with decent toilets at home and school is decreasing. Australia’s closest geographical neighbour suffers from 220 child deaths each year due to water and sanitation-related diarrhoea. Recently, polio – a waterborne disease – has returned to the island after being eradicated in 2000.

“This World Toilet Day report reinforces the importance of WaterAid Australia’s vital work in Papua New Guinea, where less than half of all students have a decent toilet at their school,” Rosie Wheen, WaterAid Australia’s Chief Executive, said.

“Children in every country of the world need access to safe toilets at home and at school. Their health, education and safety depend on it. Every child should be able to go to the toilet safely and with dignity whether they are at school or at home. Bringing safe toilets to the one in three schools worldwide with no adequate toilets, should be a top priority – along with bringing decent household toilets to the 2.3 billion people still waiting,” Ms Wheen said.

Not all news is bad, however, as some countries are making decent toilets in schools a priority. Over half of schools in Bangladesh now have a decent toilet and shared toilets in slum areas are providing a stepping stone to better health. Meanwhile, 73 percent of schools in India now have access to basic sanitation.

On World Toilet Day, today, WaterAid is calling for:
– Governments to invest more money in sanitation for all and ensure an integrated approach and improved transparency in monitoring and reporting.
– Education and finance ministers in every country, as well as donors, to invest in sanitation services and establish credible plans for achieving universal access within an agreed timeframe.
– School sanitation to meet the specific needs of girls in order to ensure their privacy, safety and dignity.
– School sanitation to be inclusive, enabling children with disabilities to use clean, safe, accessible toilets at school.

Of the 101 countries with data available on how many schools have decent toilets, Guinea-Bissau in West Africa comes last. There, eight in ten schools lack adequate facilities. This is followed by Niger, where only 24% of schools have even basic sanitation and more than seven in ten people defecate in the open because they lack a household toilet.

“Progress towards any of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible without clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. If we are serious about all children and young people, wherever they are, whatever their gender, physical ability or community background, having their right to clean water and sanitation, we must take decisive and inclusive action now,” Ms Wheen said.

Story Source: WaterAid