Sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services in Mozambique schools: COVID-19 as an opportunity for change

WaterAid/Chileshe Chanda

COVID-19 has shown how crucial it is that everyone, everywhere has access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). In Mozambique, despite its many negative effects, the pandemic has also given us the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of providing access to these essential services in schools.

Across the country, 69% of schools have no access to safe drinking water, only 47% have access to basic sanitation, and 15% have handwashing facilities. These gaps are even more apparent in primary schools, and particularly in rural areas. The primary school years cover a crucial period in a child’s development, so it is essential that all children have continuous access to water, and are introduced to good hygiene practices from an early age.

This report, a collaboration between WaterAid Mozambique, the Mozambique National Teachers’ Union and the Education for All Movement, documents the progress made to improve WASH services in Mozambican schools in response to COVID-19. The review is based on research conducted by the three organisations to understand the work being done by the government of Mozambique and its partner organisations in the education sector. As part of the research process, the organisations visited schools, and reviewed documents and conducted interviews with various figures from the WASH and education sectors.

The report also highlights some of the challenges that will affect the sustainable improvement of WASH services in schools in Mozambique after the pandemic, such as:

  • The lack of data on water, sanitation and hygiene
  • The lack of money available for running and maintaining school facilities
  • The lack of communication strategies to encourage behaviour change
  • The various types of WASH facilities used in schools

Top image: Madina, 11, happy with the newly constructed sanitary block at her school in Mecanhelas District, Mozambique.