School Toilets and Integrity

Assessing the school WASH problem in Andrha Pradesh with an Integrity Lens

School children in many countries are deprived of basic sanitation and hygiene facilities despite ample funds and projects.

This can happen when funds for building toilets get siphoned off; when maintenance funds go missing leaving the toilets unusable by students… School sanitation is a factor of school education completion, especially for girls, yet UNICEF estimates that more than half of the world’s schools lack clean toilets, drinking water and hygiene lessons for all school children.

Official figures seem to project success while in reality the situation is dire. Take the example of Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India which has a total of 96,277 schools. It is reported that 89% of the schools have a toilet facility according to the District Information System for Education statistics from 2010. However, this number does not indicate if the facilities are benefiting the students. Data from the State education department states that only 26% of the facilities are functional.

Toilets are lying idle because of various reasons: shoddy or incomplete construction, lack of water facility, no toilet cleaning or no hand-washing ingredients. Accountability and transparency is missing from the processes of planning, constructing and maintaining toilets in schools, with as a result, a situation that runs contrary to the required standards and norms defined in the Right to Education Act.

Accountability and transparency are missing from the processes of planning, constructing and maintaining toilets in schools

Strengthened policy and implementation processes can go a long way in improving sanitation facilities for children and in turn empowering them with education. A lack of integrity is one of the stronger process gaps and therefore must be assessed in a thorough and reliable manner.

A project initiated by the Fresh Water Action Network South Asia (FANSA) with support from Arghyam and the Water Integrity Network, aims to undertake this needed assessment. The project is focused on 225 schools in three districts of Andhra Pradesh: Kurnool, Warangal and Viskhapatnam. It uses an adapted version of the Annotated Water Integrity Scan approach as one element of the methodology to encourage discussion on root causes and risks in a non-confrontational and constructive manner.

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