Poor sanitary conditions kill over 1.5 million children aged below five and providing better sanitation and hygiene may prevent students from missing 300 million school days, an UNICEF report published today said.
The report also warned that poor sanitation affects education of children as well.
"Millions of children in the developing world go to schools which have no drinking water or clean latrines – basic things that many of us take for granted," said Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, at the publication’s launch today in Dubai.
Produced in collaboration with the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the report notes that 1.5 million children under the age of five die every year of diarrhoea due to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and lack of hygiene.
Better water, sanitation and hygiene – collectively known as WASH – will prevent students from missing school days due to diarrhoea, it states. Improved hygiene will lead to less risk of disease, which in turn will result in better school attendance and ultimately nation's growth.
WASH also enhances girls' continuation of education, notes the report titled "Raising Clean Hands: Advancing Learning, Health and Participation through WASH in Schools".
Kaag pointed out that improving sanitation in schools will help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), notably the targets of reducing child mortality and halving the number of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation.
Providing WASH in schools will require the involvement of all segments of society, including communities, media, students and the private sector, the report said.