Challenges of access to WASH in schools in low-and middle-income countries: Case study from rural central Kazakhstan

Zhanerke Bolatova, Kamshat Tussupova, Berik Toleubekov, Kanat Sukhanberdiyev, Kulyash Sharapatova, Martin Stafström

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


Safe water and sanitation, which give rise to appropriate hygiene, are fundamental determinants of individual and social health and well-being. Thereby, assessing and widening access to sustainable, durable water and sanitation infrastructure remains a global health issue. Rural areas are already at a disadvantage. Poor access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) can have a major negative effect on students in rural schools. Thus, the paper aims to assess the current condition and the challenge to access WASH in rural Kazakh schools. The study was conducted in three rural schools in Central Kazakhstan. Data were gathered through a survey among pupils, observations of the WASH infrastructure and maintenance, and a face-to-face interview with school administrators. The mean survey response rate was 65% across schools. Results indicated there was no alternative drinking-water source in schools, and 15% of students said they had access to water only occasionally. Half of the students reported that the water was unsafe to drink because of a poor odor, taste, or color. The toilet in school 3 was locked with a key, and a quarter of the students reported there was no access to a key. Moreover, not having gender-separated toilet facilities was a challenge because of the traditional gender norms. Despite the effective regulations and measures of handwashing taken during COVID-19, 27.7% of the students answered that soap was not offered daily in classrooms. Additionally, warm water was only provided in school 2. About 75% of students did not have access to drying materials continuously. The study shows that having the schools’ infrastructure is not enough when characteristics, such as availability, accessibility, maintenance, operation, quality of services, education, and practices, are ignored. Cooperation between local education authorities, school administration, and parents should be encouraged to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.

TidskriftInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
StatusPublished - 2021 sep.

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi


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