Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs in schools have been shown to improve health and reduce absence. In resource-poor settings, barriers such as inadequate budgets, lack of oversight, and competing priorities limit effective and sustained WASH service delivery in schools. We employed a cluster-randomized trial to examine if schools could improve WASH conditions within existing administrative structures. Seventy schools were divided into a control group and three intervention groups. All intervention schools received a budget for purchasing WASH-related items. One group received no further intervention. A second group received additional funding for hiring a WASH attendant and making repairs to WASH infrastructure, and a third group was given guides for student and community monitoring of conditions. Intervention schools made significant improvements in provision of soap and handwashing water, treated drinking water, and clean latrines compared with controls. Teachers reported benefits of monitoring, repairs, and a WASH attendant, but quantitative data of WASH conditions did not determine whether expanded interventions out-performed our budget-only intervention. Providing schools with budgets for WASH operational costs improved access to necessary supplies, but did not ensure consistent service delivery to students. Further work is needed to clarify how schools can provide WASH services daily.
- school sanitation and hygiene
- service delivery
- Received October 24, 2012.
- Accepted March 26, 2013.
- © IWA Publishing 2013