Education is Very Green, Yet 300 Million of World's Schoolchildren Don't Have Clean Toilets or Water

gwc schools without toilets image

all images: Global Water Challenge

Yesterday we heard that India announced a new program that aims to bring more efficient biomass cookstoves into homes of some 800+ million people who rely on them, bringing big health benefits. Well, time to switch gears and consider another major human health problem: Access to safe drinking water and sanitary toilet facilities for school children throughout the developing world. The folks over at Global Water Challenge have issued a new paper outlining the problem:Globally each day more than 300 million children -- that's equivalent to the entire population of the United States -- attend schools without adequate access to safe drinking water or good toilet facilities. This results in children not be able to wash their hands properly, causing disease to spread more quickly.

Remember that hand-washing and basic hygiene is a huge preventative when it comes to illnesses that are mere nuisances in wealthy countries, such as diarrhea, but are killers elsewhere. And that's not even talking about much more serious conditions such as cholera and typhoid.

nations without improved water source image

Educating Women & Girls Means Lower Population Growth, More Productive Adults
So what's the green angle in this? GWC does a good job in laying it out (the emphasis is mine):
Children of uneducated mothers are more than twice as likely to die or to be malnourished than children of mothers with a secondary or higher education. In some countries giving girls one additional year of schooling can save as many as 60,000 lives. Educated women have fewer and healthier children, who are more likely to be economically resourceful and productive adults.

Broadening it out slightly, when a community has adequate water supplies, that don't require walking miles to get it and then lugging heavy water jugs, attendance in schools increases for girls -- who would otherwise likely be helping their mothers. Increased attendance leads to higher literacy rates, and so on.

Read more: Clean Start: Focusing on School Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene [PDF]

Asia Heading for Chronic Food Shortages Without Better Water Management
1.5 Million Children Die a Year From Diarrhea - Unsafe Drinking Water, Lack of Handwashing to Blame
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