19 November 2015

World Toilet Day


Typical pit latrine in rural schools
Today is a World Toilet Day (19 November 2015). The aim of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about the people in the world who don’t have access to a toilet, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean water and sanitation. Globally, some 2.4 billion people do not have improved sanitation. Poor sanitation, water and hygiene have many other serious repercussions. Many children are denied their right to education because their schools lack private and decent sanitation facilities.

 In Mongolia, national average for access to proper sanitation facilities stands at 27.3%, yet in rural areas the number drops to a mere 6.8% (SSIS/MICS, 2013)[1]. 34,000 children from rural Mongolia, who live in dormitories so that they can attend school, lack access to proper sanitation facilities at their school and dormitories, which undermines children’s ability to stay healthy and do well in their studies. The pit latrines outside most rural schools are unhygienic, badly maintained, icy during the winters, and don’t have any lightings.

Providing equitable access to basic toilets, as well as behavior change programmes to ensure these toilets are used, is crucial to ensuring the health and development of children, and giving every child a fair chance at life.
UNICEF Mongolia has been supporting innovative solutions for sanitation facilities for Schools, Dormitories and Kindergartens, as part of its strategy to address inequality in access to water and sanitation facilities. Working in Khuvsgul province and in Nalaikh district, a peri-urban area of the country’s capital city Ulaanbaatar, we aim to create examples of good sanitation facilities that can be replicated in other parts of Mongolia. At Tarialan village in northern Mongolia for example, with support from UNICEF and Australian Aid, indoor water and sanitation facilities and septic systems wereinstalled in the village school buildings and dormitory, with over 1100 school children benefiting from the facilities.

A boy is washing his hands at Ger kindergarten equipped with standard WASH facility, supported by UNICEF
@UNICEF Mongolia/2015/Enkhzul Altangerel
At the policy level UNICEF Mongolia supported development and approval of “Norms and Requirements for WASH in Schools, Kindergartens and Dormitories” by the Government as result of series of advocacy activities by UNICEF in cooperation with partners.

“There are currently 1225 kindergartens and 799 schools running in Mongolia, yet as of today 362 kindergartens, and 337 schools do not have proper water and sanitation facilities, most of which are located in remote rural villages. Based on several research conducted by Education Institute and UNICEF, we found out that access to proper  water and sanitation facilities is playing significant role in determining how well a child does at school. Consequently, we concluded that there is a pressing need to improve the learning environment for 700,000 children attending schools and kindergartens, especially in terms of hygiene and water access. With extensive collaboration with international development organizations, we have successfully developed and approved the “norms and requirements” highlights Ms.Myagmar, senior specialist at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia.

The newly approved norms and requirements contains the following components:
•  Requirements for water supply (for drinking and cleaning water)
•  Requirements for latrines and urinals (quantity, quality, functionality and utilization)
•  Requirements for handwashing and bathing/shower facilities (quantity, quality, functionality and utilization)
•  Requirements for Operation and Maintenance of WASH facilities
•  Requirements for health education and hygiene practices and behavior change
•  Requirements for school kitchen and food handling
•  Requirements for solid waste and waste water management.

The norms and requirements also include additional requirements for adolescent girls on Menstrual Hygiene Management, for dormitory students and kindergarten children under each component where relevant.
In other words, schools and kindergartens now have specific reference manual to ensure that their water and sanitation facilities meet national norms and requirements.


The development and approval of the norms and requirements have been significant achievement for addressing the inequality in access to water and sanitation. UNICEF is strategically partnering with key national and international NGO partners, to support and advocate for the national and sub-national government to roll-out and implement the Norms and Requirements for WASH in Schools, Dormitories and Kindergartens.

Access to improved sanitation is crucial for health, dignity and security, the environment and social and economic development. Together we can ensure that every children is provided with water and sanitation to have a fair chance at life.






Author:
Batnasan Nyamsuren, Water and Sanitation Officer at UNICEF Mongolia and Enkhzul Altangerel, Digital Communications Consultant at UNICEF Mongolia



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