The number of schools without basic water, sanitation and hygiene services is constantly decreasing, but there is still a deep inequality in this indicator between countries and even within them. Schoolchildren in the least developed countries suffer the most. This is stated in a joint report published on Thursday by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

"A lot of children attend schools where there is no safe drinking water, clean toilets and hand–washing soap, which makes learning difficult," said UNICEF spokeswoman Kelly Ann Naylor. – The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of providing a healthy and inclusive learning environment. The path to recovery should include equipping schools with basic services to fight infectious diseases – now and in the future."

"Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools is necessary not only for effective infection prevention and control, but also for the healthy development and well–being of children," added Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. there is a threat of infection due to the lack or poor maintenance of the basic infrastructure."


The rate of progress is low

According to the latest data from WHO and UNICEF, 29 percent of schools in the world do not have access to drinking water, which affects 546 million children. 28 percent of schools do not provide basic sanitation services. 42 percent of schools still do not have access to basic hygiene services, which affects 802 million schoolchildren.

Sub–Saharan Africa and Oceania are the only two regions of the world where the coverage of basic sanitation services in schools remains below 50 percent.

Achieving universal coverage of schools worldwide with water, sanitation and hygiene services by 2030 will require a 14-fold increase in current indicators of progress in providing drinking water to the population, a three-fold increase in the rate of progress in providing healthy sanitation and a five-fold increase in basic hygiene services. As for the least developed countries, the pace of progress there needs to be increased at least 50 times.


Disabled people have the hardest time

The availability of water, sanitation and hygiene services for people with disabilities in the world is extremely low, this indicator varies greatly between schools of different levels, as well as urban and rural educational institutions. In half of the countries for which data are available, toilets accessible to people with disabilities are available in less than a quarter of schools. For example, in Yemen, there are toilets in 8 out of 10 schools, but only one out of 50 schools has toilets for people with disabilities.

PHOTO BY UNICEF / A. Jin: In the photo: a school for children with disabilities in Mozambique.

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