WASH and Schools

Simple solutions to keep girls in school in Bangladesh

Girls’ attendance is high, at Shahid Shudorshon high school, Maulvibazar district, Bangladesh, since new toilet facilities were built with their needs in mind.

When the school toilet situation is identified as a major culprit in low attendance and high dropouts among girls, a village high school, government and UNICEF join forces to build facilities and a support system that reverse the trend.

Read more here.

washinschoolsWhy Schools?

Every child around the world deserves an opportunity to learn in a safe and healthy environment. Safe drinking water and a safe place to use the bathroom are as important at teachers, classrooms, and books. A study of developing countries found that over half of the schools were built without water and sanitation facilities. When water, toilets and handwashing are not available at a school, children spend time collecting water instead of in the classroom. Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in Schools affects:

  • privacy and dignity
  • school attendance
  • student health
  • learning outcomes
  • gender equity
  • poverty


Since 1998, support for WASH in Schools has increased with leadership from UNICEF and their partners. There are more than 65 organizations supporting the Call to Action for WASH in Schools representing governments, civic and faith-based groups, multilaterals, corporations, foundations, academia and NGOs. The momentum continues to grow as advocacy and outreach to education, health, and WASH stakeholders continues locally, nationally, and internationally. Both the public and private sectors play key roles in advancing WASH in Schools globally. Governments in many countries such as the Philippines, Zambia, Indonesia, Guatemala, and Honduras have elevated WASH in Schools through new national policies and increased funding. Corporations and foundations have supported WASH in Schools research, advocacy, and work on the ground.

Advocacy and Sustainability

WASH Advocates focuses on advocacy and sustainability for WASH in Schools by raising awareness of and advocating for new resources. We couple our advocacy efforts with a focus on sustainability to ensure programs provide both short- and long-term outcomes. Key goals of WASH in Schools include increased female school attendance, more kids washing their hands and fewer schoolchildren with worms and diarrhea. But these goals are not enough. Facilities must continue to work over time and hygiene behavior, such as handwashing at school, must become part of the student’s daily routine. The WASH in Schools Director works with all constituencies and stakeholders to make WASH in Schools a priority for funders (corporations, foundations, private philanthropists), implementers (education, health and WASH), governments (U.S. and developing country), civic and faith organizations, and academia. In addition, the WASH in Schools Director serves as a neutral advocacy advisor and a resource for current and potential WASH in Schools partners.

Current initiatives include:

  • 1,000 Schools Initiative Follow up Report
  • Raising “Even More” Clean Hands Advocacy and Communications Toolkit
  • Coordinating WASH in Schools conference sessions
  • Presentations on WASH in Schools advocacy and sustainability to academic and community groups

Further Reading





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