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.


‘No-deal’ Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 25 September 2018
0

‘No-deal’ Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

  • Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement
  • Without a deal, the UK would move to customs arrangements set by the WTO for external states with no preferential deals

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.