Counting how many schools have water, sanitation and hygiene

Posted on 29/08/2018 by Amy Keegan (WaterAid UK)

Newly released data from WHO and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) establishes that 31% of schools globally do not have a basic drinking water service, 34% do not have basic sanitation and 47% don't have a basic hygiene service.WaterAid's Amy Keegan explores the global baseline of water, sanitation and hygiene in schools around the world. 

What’s new?

Although JMP have been producing global access figures since 1990, this is the first time they have produced data on water, sanitation and hygiene in schools. This report establishes national, regional and global baseline estimates towards measuring the Sustainable Development Goal Target 6.1, 6.2 and 4a.

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Figure 1: Global goals and targets related to WASH in schools. Source: JMP, 2018

JMP have produced new service ladders to measure WASH in schools and do not qualify infrastructure alone to be an indicator of access to WASH. Schools in which water facilities were not operational or where toilets were not single-sex and unusable when researchers visited are not considered as not having access to these basic services.

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Figure 2: New JMP service ladders for monitoring WASH in schools. Advanced service is not measured. Source: JMP, 2018

Headlines

  • 69% of schools globally have a basic drinking water service, meaning nearly 570 million children lack basic drinking water service at school. 1 in 3 primary schools and 1 in 4 secondary schools have no basic water

  • 66% of schools globally had basic sanitation service, meaning over 620 million children lack a basic sanitation service in their school. Over 1 in 3 primary schools and 1 in 4 secondary schools had no basic sanitation service.

  • 53% of schools globally have a basic hygiene service, meaning nearly 900 million children lack a basic hygiene service in their school. Nearly half of primary schools, and a 2 in 5 of secondary schools have no hygiene service

 

What are the limitations of the data?

There are major data gaps in the report, with 92 countries providing water data, 101 countries providing sanitation data and 81 providing hygiene estimates. Just 68 countries had national estimates for all three basic WASH services in schools in 2016.  

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Figure 3: Countries with national estimates for one, two or three basic WASH services in school, 2016. Source: JMP, 2018

Where the data is available for all three elements of WASH, the total coverage is significantly lower than for individual elements. Schools in Papua New Guinea have 47% coverage of basic water, 45% basic sanitation, 13% basic hygiene services. And yet just 5% of schools in the country have water, sanitation and hygiene coverage. 

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Figure 4: Proportion of schools with basic water, basic sanitation, basic hygiene and all three. Percentage. Source: JMP, 2018

Digging into the data

Where there is data disaggregated by age, schools or geography there are clear disparities in coverage.

  • Where disaggregated data is available by levels, schools serving the youngest students often have the lowest coverage figures. In Cambodia 67% of secondary schools, 48% of primary schools and just 12% of pre-primary schools have basic sanitation coverage.

  • Where disaggregated data is available by rural and urban divide, schools in urban centres often have more access to WASH. In Colombia 95% of urban schools, 82% of peri urban and 53% of rural schools have water access.  

  • Where disaggregated data is available by accessibility, often services are not accessible for all children.1 in 5 primary schools in Ethiopia have handwashing facilities, but only half of these are accessible to young children. Nealy 9 in 10 primary schools have sanitation but less than half of these are accessible to young children.

  • There is a limited amount of data on menstrual hygiene management, but where it is available is shows that there are disparities in regional access. In Liberia 56% of schools in Grand Bassa, and 0% of schools in Gbarpolu have latrines with bins, soap and water for menstrual hygiene management.

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Figure 5: Schools in Liberia with latrines with bins, water and soap for menstrual hygiene management by county. Source: JMP, 2018 

The full breakdown of JMP's WASH in schools data is now available on WASHwatch country profiles. 

Amy Keegan is a Policy Officer for Monitoring and Accountability at WaterAid. She tweets as @amy_keegan.