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WASH in Schools has failed WASH in Schools has not failed
Debate Score:17
Total Votes:18
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 WASH in Schools has failed (8)
 WASH in Schools has not failed (5)

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WASH in Schools has failed in setting standards and monitoring coverage

WASH in Schools has failed in setting standards and monitoring WASH in Schools coverage.

This is the second in a series of four debates on WASH in Schools organised by the WASH in Schools Thematic Group. 

The previous debate "We have failed on WASH in Schools" is still open and the third and fourth debates on We don’t need more evidence for WASH in Schools and We are sharing enough of our WASH in schools information have started. Please join in!

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WASH in Schools has failed

Side Score: 11

WASH in Schools has not failed

Side Score: 6
3 points

Yes, We have completely failed in setting standards for WASH in Schools. There are many guidelines for many other issues on WASH- however where are the standards, which are legally legislated and enforced. Are there schools closed because they do not meet the standards as they are unfit for human habitation? How many Ministries of Educations monitoring systems effectively capture the issue of sanitation coverage in schools? Do they use the data for decision making for improved allocations for WASH in Schools programming?

Side: WASH in Schools has failed
1 point

I agree with Murat. In the last debate, I noted that WASH in Schools has failed because of lack of coverage. This fits right into this argument. In terms of standards and coverage, WASH in Schools is too far behind in progress for its history since the 1980's.

There should be national WASH in Schools standards in every school in a nation regardless of active UNICEF WASH in Schools programming or not. These standards of course have to be developed with people beyond the UNICEF and its WASH in Schools partners. And maybe some countries already have existing standards that need to be revisited or taking upon instead of (reinventing the wheel). Further, there has to be more coverage data, in other words, find out what the WASH status, before setting the stage for setting standards and monitoring. This step remains at a very infant stage in the work of WASH in Schools so far. In fact, this step might even help to know are there existing standards? Are they applicable to current situations? How can WASH in Schools take advantage and campaign on existing standards? To achieve this, WASH in Schools will need to build stronger/deeper relationships with national/local leaders and also with the constituency. I mention this, because I am afraid that in some countries, it may not be well taken if these standards are coming solely from the ‘outside’.

The same practice has to apply in developing complimentary monitoring tools to track the effectiveness of these standards and their ability to adapt to different communities.

Side: WASH in Schools has failed
2 points

When it comes to monitoring, evaluation and defining the standards by which WASH programs should be evaluated, I believe WASH in Schools has failed. Luckily, this is not a terminal failure but a learning opportunity that we can use to improve on future projects.

As many people pointed out in the first online debate, WASH successes depend on behavior change, which is not an easy outcome to measure. Behavior change is a process that occurs over time, especially as younger generations grow up and begin to place different values on sanitation and hygiene than did their parents. How to best monitor and evaluate behavior change is an issue that the Project WET Foundation struggles with daily. As an educational organization, we do not monitor our successes by the number of latrines built or amount of soap distributed. We do, however, report on the number of students reached by our materials. Unfortunately, this does not neatly translate into the number of children and communities that have adopted sustainable and long-term healthy habits.

True monitoring and evaluation on the behavior of healthy habits in communities must be carried out regularly throughout, and periodically after, a project is fully implemented—potentially over five to 10 years, if not longer. Building such evaluations into grants and proposals remains challenging at the very least—and securing funding for post-project evaluations is nearly impossible. How are implementing organizations expected to carry out effective evaluations if the funding organizations do not support such components of a project?

In the short term it is easy to categorize a project as a success or a failure. For example, a project that builds 10 latrines can be termed a success. One year later, if the latrines are being used as storage for maize, the project is termed a failure. However, what if, five years down the line, families begin to clear out the latrines and use them for their intended purpose after values-based educational programs in the community? Is the project a success or a failure? Perhaps it is simply a slow behavior change that will eventually lead to improved community health.

The challenge for all of us in the WASH in Schools community is to look down the road at how we can evaluate behavioral changes within students and within a community. Whatever criteria or standards we decide to use, WE must first undergo a value change and begin to promote the value of regular and long term monitoring and evaluation as part of any WASH project.

Side: WASH in Schools has failed
1 point

Nous avons effectivement échoué en matière de promotion de l’eau, l’hygiène et l’assainissement dans les écoles. Plus de 70 % des écoles n’ont pas accès à l’eau et à des ouvrages d’assainissement adéquats. Les élèves n’ont pas acquis le réflexe d’utiliser et d’entretenir les ouvrages dont ils disposent. Lorsque les ouvrages d’eau ne sont plus fonctionnelle, les responsables des établissements scolaires et les parents d’élèves ne les réparent pas de façon spontané. L’eau l’hygiène, l’assainissement est un échec dans nos pays parce que les modules sur la promotion de l’hygiène ne figurent pas encore dans les programmes scolaires malgré les discours.

Side: WASH in Schools has failed
1 point

Overall there is a lack of governmental standards and monitoring coverage for WASH in Schools. For a regional program in Central America, we developed minimum technical standards through a consultative process with governmental and non-governmental officials. They are applied where governmental standards are absent or incomplete.

El Salvador has regulatory policy requiring the Ministry of Health to monitor WASH conditions in schools and issue sanitary permits to those meeting specific WASH standards, and close those which don't. Unfortunately we've been unable to identify field-level staff aware of the existence of such a policy.

The Ministry of Education in Guatemala has minimum standards for water and sanitation for new school construction. Unfortunately they too seemed to have been filed in an office in the capital and after two years we finally learned of their existence.

The WASH in Schools global mapping exercise is a positive step towards addressing the issue. Hopefully UNICEF can lead advocacy efforts to produce results not only in the development/adoption of national standards where they are absent but also in their application. National-level mapping exercises should be a key first step in WASH in Schools advocacy plans.

Side: WASH in Schools has failed
1 point

Information on the status of WASH in school is critical for government officials as well as support agencies (UN Agencies, NGO & INGO) and without adequate monitoring information system it is impossible to reach the goal of adequate wash in schools achievements.

Unfortunately, the overall monitoring systems for WASH in Schools are generally very weak. Although WASH in school monitoring package has been developed as a tool to promote and guide WASH in school monitoring initiatives nevertheless this package is not used probably by most of WASH in school working groups in most developing countries.

Side: WASH in Schools has failed
2 points

We have seen improved collaboration with Government and Development partners on WASH in school programming even do the partnership is still at its infancy.

We are gradually implementing the pupil: latrine ratio of 40/50:1. I can tell you that before now you can find 2000 pupil boys/girls sharing thesame compartment of latrine. This even encourage rape but now the situation is changing.

In Nigeria, UNICEF have supported Federal Ministry of Education to develop a WASH in school standard and specification manual. This is now being used by Universal Basic Education Board at the National Level and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB)

Water & UNICEF throuth the support of DFID in Nigeria has developed WASH in school guideline to be used at the state level. Even though this was done as a pilot in some sttes, it is now being used in the country.

In Yobe State, Nigeria through the support of EU. We are building an alliance with the media for school children to advocate for more support to the WASH in school programme.The State Governor is now interested in integrated school infrastructure, where evey school building will have water supply an latrines for the pupil and teachers.

Side: WASH in Schools has not failed
1 point

There is strong evidence of the impact of improvement of water supply, water treatment, sanitation, and hygiene on diarrheal disease (Esrey, 1986; Fewtrell, 2004; Rabie, 2006; Clasen, 2007). It is estimated that more than 10.5 million children die every year from diseases associated with a lack of access to water and basic sanitation (UNICEF, 2009). This lack of access is responsible for more than 88% of all deaths caused by diarrhoeal diseases (UNICEF, 2006). More than 30% of all school-going children in Africa, for example, suffer from intestinal worms (Savioli, 2002). According to WHO (2005) improved sanitation alone reduces the rates of diarrhoea among children by 32%. Available studies seem to suggest that sanitation can reduce diarrheal disease in children under 5 (Clasen, 2009). It is estimated that children lose more than 270 million school days as a result of diarrhoeal related diseases (Hutton & Heller, 2004).

One of the key documents on WASH in schools standards has been developed by WHO and UNICEF in 2009. This document sets clear standards for WASH in schools with the development and implementation of national policies, guidelines of safe practices, training and promotion of effective messages in a context of healthy school will inevitably decrease the number of water-, sanitation- and hygiene-related diseases. These guidelines deal specifically with water, sanitation and hygiene and are designed to be used in schools in low-cost settings in medium- and low-resource countries to:

• Assess prevailing situations and plan the improvements that are required

• Develop and reach essential safety standards as a first goal

• Support the development and application of national policies

The international policy environment increasingly reflects these issues. Providing adequate levels of water supply, sanitation and hygiene in schools is of direct relevance to the Millennium Development Goals on achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and reducing child mortality. It is also supportive of other goals, especially those on major diseases and infant mortality.

In general, guidelines and monitoring indicators on water, sanitation and hygiene in schools are widely available, although inevitably additional guidance and standards for low-cost settings should continue to further developed. For more information refer to “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Schools in Low-cost settings”. The full publication can be downloaded from:

In other words, there are definitely clear set standards and monitoring for WASH in school coverage in place.

Side: WASH in Schools has not failed
CarmelitaF(3) Disputed
1 point

How many countries are actually using the Standards set in 2009? Besides UNICEF and WHO, who were involved in the implementation process? We are now in 2011, have these standards been revised? Do the 2009 standards fit in the current contexts today?

If these standards are developed by a small group and have not be truly practiced, than they have failed.

It is one thing to develop standards with a small minority, but who knows of these standards, who are practicing these standards should be the key to its success or failure.

Side: WASH in Schools has failed
1 point

Agree that standards have been set and are slowly starting to be applied. For example Bangladesh is discussing the approval on national standards based on the WHO standards.

Monitoring exists but should be brought to scale.

Side: WASH in Schools has not failed
1 point

National guidelines from 2005 helped India

The Indian Department of Drinking Water Supply, Ministry of Rural Development of the Government of India published already in 2005 their national Technical Note Series "School Water Supply, Sanitation & Hygiene Education: India" as guidance documents for all the states in India. It used many "quotes" from the Indian SSHE Resource guide that the Department wrote with UNICEF India's and IRC assistance.

The national publication ‘School Water Supply, Sanitation & Hygiene Education: India’, from the Department of Drinking Water Supply Ministry of Rural Development Government India was available on their site as PDF file until recently. Unfortunately the link to this national file did not work anymore, when I checked on 20 April 2011.

A Resource Book and Handbook for Teachers on School Sanitation and Hygiene Education India published jointly by UNICEF India and IRC from 2002 helped the process in various Indian states. This package of two manuals examines key features of SSHE such as: behavioural change, education and training, strategic planning, district planning, local mobilisation, technologies, and ongoing school/community activities.

Both books contain a number of activity sheets to assist managers and trainers in their work. Although the books were developed in the context of the School Water and Sanitation Towards Health and Hygiene (SWASTHH) programme in India, they provide many useful guidelines and activities that apply to similar programmes elsewhere.

These handy tools can still be downloaded free of charge from our site at

Dick de Jong

Side: WASH in Schools has not failed
1 point

It has been always observed that some people are enough pessimist those who are optimist enough. But i am from Bangladesh involed with large data collection team doing baseline survey in primary schools infrastucture water sanitation facilities. My point of interest is that i have been observed with limited resources teachers are doing their level best for ensure sanitation facilities in school compound though some people stealing tubewell head to make it costly for having safe water for the poor children. But interstingly, as an alternative choice they are installing tubewell inside the classroom so that tubewell are NOT missing. So these are the optimistic sign for achieving MDG goals. School committee are purchasing soaps for hand washing by their own effort so where is the scope for telling that the mechanism is not working. As an environment health researcher i am seeing in front of rather i am not falling back for optimistic.

Side: WASH in Schools has not failed
murat(6) Disputed
1 point

Yes Teachers and headmasters are great innovators in finding solutions to challanges they face. These challanges include WASH in Schools related issues such as keeping soap available at hand washing stands, keeping latrines clean, and maintaning water supply points etc. however as the standards are not clear, mechanisms are not established for enforcement of standards then it is left as a load(sometimes overburden) for tecahers to maintain them. Even there is no goal set (and not monitored) for WASH in Schools ? Do you have a givernment goal for reaching universal WASH coverage in schools in bangladesh?

Side: WASH in Schools has failed