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Water and Sanitation

© UNICEF PNG/2013/Sokhin

Overview

While Papua New Guinea (PNG) has made progress in improving access to clean water and sanitation facilities, there is still much work to be done. Access to improved water in PNG has increased slightly since 1990 but access to sanitation facilities during the same period has declined slightly. Unless considerable improvements are made by the government and development partners, PNG will miss the national targets identified in government’s development strategic plan 2030 and the recently approved National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Policy.

UNICEF in Action

A review of Child Friendly Schools (CFS) in rural areas in PNG, revealed that 41 per cent of the students said what they did not like about their schools was the condition of toilets - most of the schools do not have good toilet facilities. The toilets tend to be basic pit toilets and some schools do not have toilets at all, forcing students to defecate in the open which poses serious health hazards.

Most schools also do not have access to piped water systems. Most depend on rainwater to meet the drinking and hygiene needs of students. During dry seasons when there is extreme shortage of water, and some schools are forced to close for few days.

Adolescent girls in school suffer the most.  Many schools report absenteeism among adolescent girls, due to a lack of clean, private changing rooms and without access to soap, water and sanitary pads. Some stay away from school for few days. This hampers girls’ learning - they miss classes and they attend classes with reduced self-esteem and dignity.
To make schools better, school children suggested proper, clean and more toilets and water supply.

Access to poor WASH facilities in schools and at households level is reflected in the health of the nation. PNG ranks currently at the bottom of all Pacific countries for all WASH related health statistics, with over 6,000 diarrheal deaths per year. In 2009 cholera re-emerged in PNG after 50 years.

Unless considerable improvements are made, women will continue to bear the drudgery of fetching water for hours and school children, especially girls, will continue to miss school. PNG as a nation will spend much more on health care costs which may well have been avoided with the correct investment in WASH sector.

UNICEF PNG provides support to WASH in schools to enable all children especially girls to attend classes regularly. UNICEF Works with National Department of Education to strengthen promotion of safe usage of toilets, use of safe drinking, hand washing with soap and Menstrual Hygiene Management in the schools.  Support is also provided to Monitor WASH in schools using the national EMIS (Education Management Information System).

 

 
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