About 43% of Schools Globally Are Without Basic Handwashing Facilities

hands in sink filled with water

According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme, 43% of schools globally do not have basic handwashing facilities. Specifically, 818 million children are affected, with 295 million of those children coming from sub-Saharan Africa. They are all at risk for COVID-19 and other transmittable diseases simply because their schools don’t have water and soap to wash away germs and bacteria.

The report also found 355 million kids went to schools that had water but no soap, and 462 million kids went to schools with no facilities for water. Overall, 698 million children go to schools lacking basic sanitation and water services. Exactly one in three schools had limited drinking water service or lacked no drinking water at all. 

These children live in 60 countries at the highest risk of health and humanitarian crisis due to COVID-19. The report explains that the implementation of public health measures must take place in order for kids to be able to continue their education in a safe environment. 

“We must prioritize children’s learning,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore. “This means making sure schools are safe to reopen, including with access to hand hygiene, clean drinking water, and safe sanitation.”

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus echoed Fore’s statements saying, “Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services is essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings and schools.” He continued, “It must be a major focus of government strategies for the safe reopening and operation of schools during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.”

The Realist Woman’s take:

This report is beyond disturbing. How can anyone combat this pandemic without basic water and sanitation services? To know nearly a billion children are without these basics is absolutely heartbreaking. 

It is the responsibility of governments worldwide to provide basic water services. We’ve known about the fact that children go without water to drink and bathe with forever, and it has always been unacceptable. But in order to fight this pandemic, it is truly time for all of that to change.

Again, basic water service should be provided by governments around the world, but in the meantime, here is a link to 10 water charities impacting children, those most affected by the lack of water services.