What we learned

Updated - Monday 10 September 2012

SWASH+ research revealed that school WASH is very important.

For example:

  • Hygiene and water treatment can result in a 58% reduction in girls’ absence or an average reduction of six days per year per girl,
  • A comprehensive school WASH intervention can reduce the risk of diarrheal disease by 66%
  • Improvements in school water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) with a single round of deworming can result in reduced helminth reinfection
  • Pupils in schools with cleaner latrines were half as likely to be absent than pupils in schools with dirtier latrines.

See also power point presentation on SWASH+: Myths proved and disproved

In some ways the research findings defied common assumptions about school WASH or turned up some unexpected surprises:

  • The provision of new latrines led to a significant increase of the likelihood of E.coli presence on hands among girls and a moderate increase among boys,
  • The influence of school WASH on household behaviors (using water treatment as an indicator) was significant but more modest than anticipated.

And in some areas the findings were disappointing, yet instructive:

  • Three years after implementing the Safe Water System (SWS) school WASH intervention, only 36% of schools continued to provide drinking water and only 9% had measurable levels of chlorine in their drinking water.  

For more lessons, see our Top 10 Research Findings.