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FRESH Tools for Effective School HealthFirst Edition


Guidelines for the Provision of Safe Water

and Sanitation Facilities in Schoolsi




It is well known that safe water and adequate sanitation are the bases for a sustainable solution to the threat of water-related diseases. A high incidence of intestinal diseases associated with lack of safe drinking water and inappropriate means of excreta disposal is a typical picture, especially among schoolchildren in many developing countries of the world.  Provision of safe drinking water and basic sanitation, coupled with adequate personal hygiene behaviour, can prevent viral diseases such as hepatitis A, bacterial diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and worm infections such as roundworm, whipworm, hookworm, schistosomiasis and other flukes.


Optimal Standards for Safe Water Supply at Schoolii

Water Source

Sources of water for drinking fall into three broad categories: 1) groundwater (dug wells, boreholes and springs); 2) rainwater collection; and 3) surface water (rivers, streams, lakes and small dams). Groundwater sources are often of good quality and may simply require protection (such as a well cover or spring protection box) and disinfection. Rainwater collection is most commonly used at household level, but can also be used at school to provide supplementary drinking water provided there is sufficient space for a storage tank and the system is properly maintained (e.g. regular cleaning of the water collection area). On the other hand, surface water sources, such as rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, are normally open to contamination and require extensive treatment before being used for drinking.

Safe water supply should be available on school premises at all times.

Ideally, water should be obtained (where it exists) from the local municipal system, or alternatively, from a groundwater source with arrangements for systematic disinfection of the water.

Water Quantity

The expected demand for safe water will vary considerably between countries depending on cultural hygiene-related habits and the type of water, sanitation and cooking amenities. As a general indication, the consumption of water under ideal conditions can reach 60 litres per day per student in day schools that have flushing toilets and cooking facilities. The following are optimal requirements for water supply facilities at schools:

Hand washing basins:1 per 50-100 students

Showers:1 per 20 students

Expected water consumption varies from 15-30 litres per day per student in day schools and from 90-140 litres per day per student in boarding schools.


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