WASH in Schools: Implementation Guidelines

Colourful patterned front cover thumbnail of guidelines document

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is important for good health. Schools take simple, inexpensive steps to improve WASH facilities at their school, and healthy hygiene habits are taught, practised and integrated into daily school routines.


Safe water, toilets and improved hygiene behaviours are essential in schools to provide a clean and
safe learning environment. Although we have made progress, the sustainability of school water,
sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and hygiene behaviour change remains a huge challenge
in many countries. Safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are essential in schools to provide
children with a clean, safe learning environment and teach them how to live healthy, happy adult lives.

In low and middle-income countries, almost half of schools do not have safe drinking water and 55%
lack sanitation facilities. School hygiene is a particular challenge; based on the limited data available,
only 21% of schools in developing countries have handwashing facilities. This lack of basic water
and sanitation services and improved hygiene behaviours is holding back students’ potential and
preventing them from escaping poverty.

In the South Pacific self-reported data collected on WASH in Schools from Ministries of Education in
the region demonstrate that school children in Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands have
extremely low access levels. In Kiribati a meagre 4% of schools have access to sanitation and only
3% to water. A baseline study in the Solomon Islands revealed that 46% of schools in rural areas lack
access to water, 65% lack access to sanitation and 66% lack handwashing facilities.

In addition, girls and children with disabilities are denied access to education due to stigma and when
WASH facilities are unavailable or inadequate2. Girls miss school each month because of stigma
concerning menstruation and because sanitary pads are unaffordable for many families, and toilets in
schools are not equipped with menstrual hygiene facilities, or are not properly maintained.

Written by: Michelle Abel

Contributors: Betty Amos, David Boas, Mathew Johnston, Jessica Jota, Josephine Kombul,
Iva Koroisamanunu, Jessica Pungmat, Jack Purai, Clement Nusama, Tom Rankin, Brendon Teava
and Cecilia Tohiam

Thank you to Declan Hearne from International WaterCentre for starting Live & Learn on this journey.

Design and Layout: Wilani van Wyk-Smit

Illustration: Nick Mattiske


This manual is available online at:

This document was produced through “The New Times, New Targets Project” which aims to improve
sustainable and inclusive access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and facilities with
schools, clinics and communities in rural Solomon Islands. The project is an Australian aid initiative
implemented by Plan International Australia in partnership with Live & Learn Environmental Education
on behalf of the Australian Government.

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