Water and Sanitation in Schools: A Systematic Review of the Health and Educational Outcomes

A systematic review of the literature on the effects of water and sanitation in schools was performed. The goal was to characterize the impacts of water and sanitation inadequacies in the academic environment. Published peer reviewed literature was screened and articles that documented the provision of water and sanitation at schools were considered. Forty-one peer-reviewed papers met the criteria of exploring the effects of the availability of water and/or sanitation facilities in educational establishments. Chosen studies were divided into six fields based on their specific foci: water for drinking, water for handwashing, water for drinking and handwashing, water for sanitation, sanitation for menstruation and combined water and sanitation. The studies provide evidence for an increase in water intake with increased provision of water and increased access to water facilities. Articles also report an increase in absenteeism from schools in developing countries during menses due to inadequate sanitation facilities. Lastly, there is a reported decrease in diarrheal and gastrointestinal diseases with increased access to adequate sanitation facilities in schools. Ensuring ready access to safe drinking water, and hygienic
toilets that offer privacy to users has great potential to beneficially impact children’s health. Additional studies that examine the relationship between sanitation provisions in schools are needed to more adequately characterize the impact of water and sanitation on educational achievements.

Water and Sanitation in Schools: A Systematic Review of the Health and Educational Outcomes. C. Jasper, T. Le, J. Bartram. 2012. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 9:8, pp. 2772–2787. doi.org/10.3390/ijerph9082772