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How Does a Lack of Clean Water Impact Children's Education

By Lucy Clarke · May 3, 2022

Education is one of the most important ways communities can lift themselves out of poverty. 

By the time a child finishes school, they will have countless more opportunities than those who didn’t get the chance to get an education. In fact, on a global scale, every year a girl stays in school, she can expect her income to rise by 15 - 25%. 

Even though education can be key to breaking the cycle of poverty, there can be one thing holding communities back: water. A lack of access to clean water and a lack of toilets and safe sanitation facilities can really jeopardise a child’s future. 

How many schools across the world do not have access to good sanitation and clean water?

Globally, over 30% of schools do not have access to safe water and good sanitation. In primary schools, 1 in 5 do not have access to clean water and toilet facilities, while 1 in 8 secondary schools lack basic sanitation. 

The country that has the lowest number of school toilets is Guinea-Bissau, while in Ethiopia, most children will not have access to a toilet even when they go home from school. 

Why is it important that there are toilet facilities in schools?

If children do not have access to reliable sanitation facilities and drinking water in schools, there are so many problems that can arise.

Children must either use dirty, unsafe pits, or go to the toilet in the open, or they’re forced to stay at home. This only increases the chances that children will become severely ill with diarrhoea or other illnesses related to poor sanitation. 

As a result, children become severely malnourished thanks to repeated bouts of diarrhoea - which affects their concentration and focus in school. The high level of water-related diseases among school children results in 443m missed days in school. 

This is a huge loss of potential and many school children - especially girls - drop out of school directly due to poor sanitation. Water and education go hand-in-hand. 

Water and Children - how does a lack of clean water endanger a child’s education?

Children are often expected to help collect water alongside the women in their community. Collecting dirty water can take hours out of their day, and leaves no time for education, hobbies or a moment to simply enjoy their childhood. 

Additionally, the water that communities have to collect is rarely sanitary and is contaminated with waterborne diseases

Children are particularly susceptible to becoming very ill, especially if their immune systems are already weakened due to malnourishment. In countries where there is a sanitation crisis and a profound lack of clean water, childhood mortality rates are incredibly high. With illness and death a constant shadow over many children’s lives, it’s no wonder that many children cannot complete their education and escape the cycle of poverty. 

How can Elliot for Water help lessen this crisis?

Elliot for Water’s browser extension can help communities gain access to clean water and sanitation. This will allow children to focus on their education and childhood rather than walking miles to collect water or spending days suffering from preventable waterborne diseases.

We use 60% of our profits to finance clean water projects in the countries that need it most. By 2025, we want to provide clean drinking water to 1 million people. You’re just one click away from changing lives.