WHO/UNICEF report on handwashing facilities in schools

18 August 2020

Article: 54/3307

The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) has shown 43% of schools around the world lacked access to basic handwashing with soap and water in 2019.

According to the report, around 818 million children lacked basic handwashing facilities at their schools, which puts them at increased risk of COVID-19 and other transmittable diseases. Over one-third of these children, approximately 295 million, are from sub-Saharan Africa. In the least developed countries, seven out of ten schools lacked basic handwashing facilities and half of schools lacked basic sanitation and water services.

In other key findings from the report: 

  • Of the 818 million children who lacked a basic handwashing service at their school, 355 million went to schools which had facilities with water but no soap, and 462 million to schools which had no facilities or water available for handwashing. 
  • In the 60 countries at highest risk of health and humanitarian crises due to COVID-19, three-in-four children lacked basic handwashing service at their school at the start of the outbreak, half of all children lacked basic water service and more than half lacked a basic sanitation service. 
  • One-in-three schools worldwide had either a limited drinking water service or no drinking water service at all. 
  • 698 million children lacked basic sanitation service at their school.

Source: WHO, 13 August 2020