The Relationship between Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Education

It is apparent that education has suffered greatly under the apartheid regime, and the same applies to sanitation, water, and hygiene for the non-white community. While the government is making advancements in policies and implementations to better those areas in the country’s poor sectors, it is still a challenge to be faced every day. The advancement of education and WaSH issues has created a dependent relationship- one influencing the other and vice versa. Without the necessary education, it is hard to instill the ideas of proper sanitation and health within a poor informal settlement. On the other hand, a lack of sanitation creates an environment that does not support the education system and prevents children from attending primary and secondary school.

Rob Stephenson and Alaka Basu, state, “education, even very little of it, is the magic bullet for literally any kind of improvement in people’s lives” (“Low levels of maternal education”, 2005). In the case of sanitation and education, while maintenance of toilets and facilities is critical, it is equally as crucial for people to be educated about the principles of proper hygiene and water usage that are applicable in their homes and community facilities (Sinanovic, 2005). Additionally, improper sanitation prevents efficient and frequent attendance at school. Anjali Adukia, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, discusses the idea that students of slum areas, particularly girls reaching puberty, leave school due to lack of sanitation and privacy (2014). He goes on to explain that education translates into a better socio-economic status, or “upper economic mobility and gender equality in education”, which can be directly affected by the sanitation of the facility. Having access to proper bathrooms and clean water can alter the enrollment and dropout rates of school (Adukia, 2014).