Lives and education are lost globally for want of a toilet says Water Aid

The health, education and safety of millions of children around the world is threatened because one in three of the world’s schools lack adequate toilets, according to a report from WaterAid.

In its fourth annual State of the World’s Toilets report, The Crisis in the Classroom, published ahead of World Toilet Day, highlights how lack of decent sanitation at school and at home leaves children “dangerously exposed to illnesses that could kill them.” And sanitation-related illnesses result in missed school days and the loss of potential, Water Aid warned.

Guinea-Bissau tops the table of 101 countries with data available of worst in the world for school toilets, while Ethiopia remains the nation with the most people without household toilets with 93% of households lacking a decent toilet.

WaterAid’s analysis found:

  • diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation kills 289,000 children under five each year

  • diarrhoea and intestinal infections kill nearly 140,000 children aged between five and 14 each year – many of which could be prevented with clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene;

  • in South Asia, more than a third of girls miss school for between one and three days a month during their period;

WaterAid’s chief executive, Tim Wainwright, said: “Bringing safe toilets to the one in three schools worldwide with no adequate toilets, should be a top priority – along with bringing decent household toilets to the 2.3 billion people still waiting.

“Progress towards any of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible without clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. We must take decisive and inclusive action now.”

WaterAid has called for:

  • governments to invest more money in sanitation for all and ensure an integrated approach and improved transparency in monitoring and reporting;

  • education and finance ministers in every country, as well as donors, to invest in sanitation services and establish credible plans for achieving universal access within an agreed timeframe;

  • school sanitation to meet the specific needs of girls to ensure their privacy, safety and dignity; and

  • school sanitation to be inclusive, enabling children with disabilities to use clean, safe, accessible toilets at school.