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Report - Improving school sanitation in a sustainable way

In the European Region (of 53 countries), 120 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, and even more lack access to hygienic sanitary facilities. Better management of water and sanitation would prevent over 30 million cases of water-related disease per year in the region. HEAL member, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), have released a report on how to improve school sanitation in sustainable way.

Little is known about access to adequate water supply and safe sanitation for public institutions such as schools in the eastern European region. Since the independence of former Soviet states, such as Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and others, existing central water and sewage systems are often badly maintained and no longer functioning.

WECF carried out research on issues of water and sanitation in rural areas of the EU countries Romania and Bulgaria, and in 10 EECCA countries. Many of these countries have some of worst conditions of school sanitation in rural areas – with groundwater often polluted by infiltration of nitrates and micro organism. It was found that in many situations, visiting the latrine is a threat to children’s health. The toilets are often far from the school, with little privacy and are unhygienic. Very often children and school staff try to avoid a visit to the facility by reducing their intake of liquids.

In demonstration projects, WECF improved the sanitary condition of the schools and showed how to manage human excreta in an affordable, safe and sustainable way. It was shown, that even without a connection to the central water or sewage system, the dry urine-diverting toilet is a very fast and easy tool to improving the sanitary conditions of schools in an affordable and sustainable way, and to protect groundwater against infiltration of human excreta.

WECF call for more attention to be paid to school sanitation amongst regional, national and international policy makers. In order to improve the sanitary conditions in schools, regulations on the adoption of urine-diversion systems and the reuse of the human excreta in agriculture are needed.

Last updated on 10 June 2011

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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