The lack of access to safe water and improved sanitation is a pressing problem for marginalized communities in Kyrgyzstan, which reinforces social vulnerability and poverty. Water and sanitation infrastructure is in need of substantial repair. National policies relating to water, sanitation, and hygiene are largely focused on large systems, and no specific water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools’ policy or coordinating body exists. Rural schools are more likely to have limited or no WASH in schools access.
Over 36 per cent of schools nationwide have no water supply within school boundaries and 91.8 per cent of children confirmed that they wash hands more often at home than at school.
The large investments in expanding water and sanitation services have also brought to the fore the challenge of ensuring sustainability, particularly in rural areas. Longstanding problems with water supply reliability and quality, sanitation, public health and hygiene practice were highlighted during the 2010 crisis, which required the involvement of UNICEF for emergency relief.
Sanitation facilities are not always designed in a way that takes the special needs of girls and children with disabilities into account.
Many schools haven’t been renovated since Soviet times and lack heating and proper sanitation facilities. The lack of adequate facilities in schools and the poor condition of school infrastructure in rural area contributes to school-age children, including adolescent girls, dropping out of school. This is compounded by stigma based on social norms and attitudes towards puberty and poor menstrual hygiene management practices at schools. There is also an issue of lack of awareness or capacity in schools that create an unfavourable environment, which affects girls in particular.