Water, Environment and Sanitation

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Water, sanitation and hygiene in school

© Unicef Burkina Faso/2005/Huygues-Despointes M.
Drinking water facilities in schools help to improve hygienic practices and keep students healthy

Improve the living environment in primary school and preschool

The majority of Burkina Faso schools have no drinking water or sanitation facilities. This lack of amenities is a major obstacle to education, especially for girls.

Statistics from Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Basic Education and Literacy show that 38% of primary schools were equipped with drinking water facilities in 2003 and 54% had operational toilets during the same period. Hygienic practices are not well observed, with the result that students are frequently absent from schools due to waterborne diseases. In addition, girls drop out of schools after a certain age due to lack of appropriate toilet facilities.

The school constitutes an excellent learning environment for behavior change. It should serve as an entry point for popularizing the use of water and sanitation facilities and the spread of good hygiene habits in families and communities. However, efforts to provide schools with drinking water are hindered by the fact that water sources tend to be far from school premises.

UNICEF, through the WES programme, has helped to set up a “minimum package” of quality interventions likely to favor girls’ education and to improve the hygienic practices of students. These interventions support the construction and the rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities ensuring separate sanitation facilities for boys and girls; the development and the use of pump repair equipment and methods; hygiene; and the incorporation of hygiene education in school programmes.

Over the last five years the programme has helped to provide schools with 170 wells and rehabilitate 50 water pumps. Coupled with work done by the government and other partners, this has contributed to reducing the prevalence of guinea worm infection from 1,956 cases in 2000 to 30 cases in 2005 and also to increasing water access in schools from 39% to 82% over the same period. Sanitation and hygiene education was intensified, using primary schools as an entry point: 139 schools were equipped with special latrines, and a number of activities were undertaken. Teacher and students were trained in hygiene education, and children participated in activities targeting behavior change in families. In addition to the help given to schools, 1,130 family latrines were built.

These interventions have enabled UNICEF to play an essential role in advocacy. UNICEF has coordinated the expansion of water, sanitation and hygiene pilot projects in schools, helping other partners to use UNICEF’s experience and apply these effective measures to a large number of primary schools in key areas.




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