Half the world’s schools lack clean water, toilets and handwashing

Female toilet signs are pictured at the World Robot Conference (WRC) in Beijing, China, on August 15, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 August 2018
0

Half the world’s schools lack clean water, toilets and handwashing

  • A lack of safe water and sanitation facilities can cause dehydration, illness, and even death
  • Nearly half lacked proper handwashing facilities, essential for helping prevent the spread of infections and disease

LONDON: Nearly half the world’s schools lack clean drinking water, toilets and handwashing facilities, putting millions of children at risk of disease, experts warned on Monday.
Almost 900 million children have to contend with a lack of basic hygiene facilities during their education, putting their health at risk and meaning some have to miss school.
“You can’t have a quality learning environment without these basics,” said Dr. Rick Johnston of the World Health Organization, a lead researcher on the project.
“Children may not come to school at all if there’s no toilets ... Then, when they are at school, they are not going to at their very best if they not able to use a decent toilet or if they are not properly hydrated.”
World leaders have signed up to global pledges to provide safe water and hygiene facilities for all and ensure every child gets a comprehensive education by 2030 under the UN’s sustainable development goals.
A lack of safe water and sanitation facilities can cause dehydration, illness, and even death.
But many children are forced to risk their health to take part in classes, according to the report produced jointly by the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF and the WHO, the first to look specifically at provision in schools.
It found nearly a third of primary and secondary schools lacked a safe and reliable drinking water supply, affecting nearly 570 million children. Nearly 20 percent of schools had no safe drinking water at all.
Just over a third of schools lacked adequate toilet facilities, affecting more than 620 million children. Almost one in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools were considered to have no sanitation.
Nearly half lacked proper handwashing facilities, essential for helping prevent the spread of infections and disease. Nearly 900 million children were affected, the report found.
Sub-Saharan Africa, East and Southeast Asia had some of the worst facilities.
“It’s deeply shocking,” Tim Wainwright, the chief executive of charity WaterAid, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“The consequences are very broad in terms of children’s access to education, general health and state of nutrition.”
Adolescent girls in particular are often forced to miss classes when they are on their periods if there are no proper cleaning and sanitation facilities, he said.
More than a third of girls in South Asia miss school during their periods, often because they lack access to toilets or pads, according to a WaterAid and UNICEF study earlier this year.
The World Bank last year warned countries needed to quadruple spending to $150 billion a year to deliver universal safe water and sanitation.
However, experts say they are optimistic the situation can be quickly improved if leaders treat water, sanitation and hygiene as a priority.
“With political will, it really is possible to deliver good quality services,” said Johnston.


Cobra Gold: One of Asia’s largest war drills opens in Thailand

Updated 28 min 12 sec ago
0

Cobra Gold: One of Asia’s largest war drills opens in Thailand

  • Cobra Gold is one of the largest military exercises in Asia
  • On Saturday US, Thai and South Korean forces descended on Namsai beach in Chonburi province in a joint drill intended to simulate securing the territory

SATTAHIP, Thailand: With weapons drawn camouflaged troops leapt out of amphibious assault craft while explosions sounded and parachutists glided in from above as the annual Cobra Gold war games took over a placid Thai beach Saturday.
Now in its 38th year, Cobra Gold is one of the largest military exercises in Asia, bringing thousands of forces from the United States, Thailand and other countries together for 11 days of training on Thai shores.
This year’s drill includes some 2,000 US Marines, 1,000 US soldiers and hundreds from the country’s Navy and Air Force.
On Saturday US, Thai and South Korean forces descended on Namsai beach in Chonburi province in a joint drill intended to simulate securing the territory.
Captain Melvin Spiese said the goal was to “bring power from ship to shore” and be ready for “any kind of future crisis we might need to respond to with our Thai counterparts.”
Helicopters buzzed overhead and fighter jets roared across the skies.
Cobra Gold exercises span air, land and sea and feature a jungle survivalist session where participants take turns drinking blood from a severed cobra and snacking on insects and scorpions.
Singapore, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia also took part in the war games.
A 2014 army coup in Thailand tested ties with Washington and the kingdom tilted towards China with high-profile arms buys.
But US military sales continued and the two countries have upped their engagement under US President Donald Trump, who has stepped back on human rights issues and invited junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha to the White House.
Prayut, who led the 2014 coup, is standing for prime minister in elections set for March 24.