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: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/wash_standards_school.pdf.
In other words, there are definitely clear set standards and monitoring for WASH in school coverage in place.