Enhancing School Sanitation

In 2014, it was estimated that 2 out of 5 Indian schools did not have separate toilets for boys and girls, and over 2.5 lakh schools did not have any toilets at all. In October 2014, the government launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan scheme to help address this problem. This government has called for action from both, local governments and corporate CSR programs to help build and manage separate toilets in schools. Dasra’s whitepaper, T for Toilets, outlines the rationale for better school sanitation, highlights government initiatives that foreground sanitation as a national priority, and draws a roadmap for private sector investment in the sanitation sector.

Why is it important?

Improved school sanitation has a positive impact on 5 out of 8 Millennium Development Goals. It contributes to:
  • Achieving universal primary education, by improving attendance and minimizing dropouts (especially in adolescent girls)
  • Achieving gender equality through increased education for girls
  • Combating disease through better hygiene
  • Environmental sustainability through better waste management
  • Reducing hunger by encouraging children to eat regular meals and drink water at school – which they will not do without assured access to toilets during the day. 
In addition, improved sanitation status in schools increases children’s awareness of sanitation issues and empowers them to be change agents in their families and communities.

What are the priority areas for action?

Simply providing access to toilets in schools, by constructing new toilets, or renovating existing facilities, will not be enough to solve the issue. Dasra has identified five key focus areas to provide universal school sanitation in India:
  • Provide behavior change communication and hygiene education: It is well accepted now that for sanitation programs to succeed, they must both, construct toilets and provide comprehensive health and hygiene education, to ensure community buy-in. Additionally, children and youth, once taught hygienic behavior, are then likely to act as ambassadors and change agents in their communities.
  • Design appropriate toilets: School sanitation programs must be designed appropriately: toilets and pit latrines must be sized for children, urinals and washbasins must be the appropriate height, and the toilets themselves must be well built, ventilated and hygienic with a functioning water connection.
  • Train stakeholders: Providing managerial and technical training about sanitation delivery to school leadership, teachers and parents of schoolchildren allows them to advocate for themselves with urban local bodies and municipalities and ensure the maintenance and sustainability of school sanitation facilities.
  • Create partnerships with local government: The government is best placed to provide effective sanitation services at scale, through the application of policy as well as financial and human resources. Partnering with the government is critical for organizations to, at least, be able to effectively implement programs without delay, and at best, allow them to leverage government resources.
  • Collecting data: One of the biggest inhibitors of effective sanitation programs in schools is the lack of accurate data on ground realities that would help the government and other stakeholders make informed decisions. It is important for organizations and the government to ensure that decisions are based on up-to-date, detailed needs assessments, and to tailor programs to those needs.
How can you support the cause?
  • Fund high-impact organizations that have been identified by Dasra after an assessment of over 300 organizations.
  • Contact one of these organizations to explore opportunities to partner.
  • Share this page with people you know to direct more support to the cause.