Updated - Thursday 02 August 2012
The research and implementation experience of SWASH+ reveal both helping and hindering forces behind the success and sustainability of school WASH. On the one hand, individual schools and community have demonstrated creativity and determination in providing school WASH services even within austere environments (link to photo essays). Given the undeniable importance of water and sanitation, schools generally provide WASH services given the proper resources, and try to provide them well. For example, when SWASH+ provided schools with a limited supply of hypochlorite solution and educated them about safe water treatment, at least 40% continued treating their water, compared to 4.5% in control schools, even after supplies ran out. (see: Top 10 Research Findings)
On the other hand, when improvements in school WASH are made, it is the exception, rather than the rule to see those services being consistently provided a year or two or three later. This is in part because schools administrators are more likely to be enthusiastic about the infrastructure components of WASH, such as improved wells and latrines, rather than the “software” components such the availability of soap, the regular cleaning of latrines, and the promotion of handwashing and water treatment, that according to SWASH+ research, make all the difference.
- Funding -Doubling of funds for school WASH ($840,000/year) with potentially more to come. Research findings from SWASH+ supported the necessity of increased school WASH funding. The Ministry of Education’s decision to double funding for the nation’s 18,000 primary schools may mean the difference between whether or not a school is able to purchase consumables such as soap, WaterGuard for treating water, and latrine cleaning supplies – thus affecting student wellbeing and attendance.
- Adoption of WASH curriculumand materials -in-service teacher training will be conducted using a set WASH material and curriculum. Hygiene promotion, education and training are essential for the proper use of water treatment methods and facilities. Well-trained teachers can instruct students in healthy handwashing practices during studies and encourage them to take the message home.
- SWASH sustainability charter- Agreement to develop a school WASH sustainability charter
- Menstrual hygiene -Women’s and girls’ needs often fall second to those of men and boys. Most families in rural Kenya struggle to purchase even the most basic essentials and schools are unable to supply basic sanitary supplies, including toilet paper. Research and attention are rarely focused on the menstrual hygiene needs of young women, but the SWASH+ research team invested in hearing young women’s experiences, concerns, and needs. $3.4 million was allocated for sanitary pads for school girls this year, based on SWASH+ research findings. Set to begin in May 2012, the Kenyan government’s allocation of money for sanitary pads is estimated to reach 500,000 girls in grades 7 and 8.