The lack of water and sanitation provisions, particularly toilets and hand-washing facilities, is a major issue within Unnati’s working area. Though toilets exist in 98% of schools in Rajasthan, they are not used in the vast majority of cases. Toilets are either in a state of disrepair, lack running water or are permanently locked. Washing facilities often have no running water and taps are regularly broken. Furthermore, awareness of good sanitation practices is poor, both among children and teachers.
This lack of provisions results in two major problems. Firstly, a lack of good sanitation facilities and practices means that children are regularly becoming ill, missing days at school and therefore falling behind in their education. Secondly, the lack of toilets means that girls are frequently dropping out of school when they start to have their periods, as they have no private space in which to manage their menstrual cycle.
Unnati works to change this situation through a combination of improving the condition of facilities and ensuring that children and teachers both know how to use them and understand the importance of good sanitation practices. Training is provided in every school covered by the project, and regular monitoring takes place to ensure that the facilities are being used.
The implementation of working toilets and hand washing facilities in schools will also lead to children becoming advocates for similar facilities within their homes and communities, helping to increase construction and adoption of toilets within village communities.