Lack of safe drinking water impacts 8.5m schoolchildren in Bangladesh: UN agencies
Published : Saturday, 25 June, 2022 at 12:00 AM Count : 704
One in five schools (20 per cent) lack of safe drinking water, impacting 8.5 million (85 lakh) schoolchildren in Bangladesh, the UN agencies said Thursday.
Over 19 million kids are negatively impacted by the lack of basic sanitation facilities such as gender-segregated restrooms with privacy (43 per cent) and basic hygiene services such as hand-washing stations with water and soap (44 per cent).
The report from the UN agencies also notes that 7 per cent of schools in Bangladesh lack any type of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities, which means that over three million (30 lakh) children attend a school without any sort of hand-washing station, latrine, or safe drinking water.
Despite a steady decline in the proportion of schools without basic services, deep inequalities persist between and within countries.
Schoolchildren in the least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile contexts are the most affected, and emerging data shows that few schools have disability-accessible WASH services.
"The Covid-19 pandemic underscored the importance of providing healthy and inclusive learning environments. To protect children's education, the road to recovery must include equipping schools with the most basic services to fight infectious diseases today and in the future."
"Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is not only essential for effective infection prevention and control but also a prerequisite for children's health, development and well-being," said Maria Neira, World Health Organisation (WHO) director at the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health. "Schools should be settings where children thrive and not be subjected to hardship or infections due to lack of, or poorly maintained, basic infrastructure."
Schools play a critical role in promoting the formation of healthy habits and behaviours, yet many still lacked basic WASH services in 2021.
According to the latest data from the WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, globally, 29 per cent of schools still lack basic drinking water services, impacting 546 million schoolchildren; 28 per cent of schools still lack basic sanitation services, impacting 539 million schoolchildren; and 42 per cent of schools still do not have basic hygiene services, impacting 802 million schoolchildren.
One-third of children without basic services at their school lives are from LDCs, and over half live in fragile contexts.
In half the countries with data available, less than a quarter of schools had disability-accessible toilets.
In most countries with data, schools were more likely to have adapted infrastructure and materials - such as ramps, assistive technology, and learning materials - than disability-accessible toilets.