Impacts on children and education
Diseases linked to poor sanitation and hygiene have a significant impact on children’s health and education. 38% of Ethiopian school children are infected with parasitic worms (Mahmud et al. 2015). These infections contribute to malnutrition because the parasites prevent the child’s body from absorbing nutrients from the food that they eat. Long-term malnutrition retards children's physical and intellectual development. The Young Lives survey (2014) reported that around 30% of Ethiopian children are stunted, which is a sign of long-term malnutrition. (Stunted means that a child’s height is less than expected for their age.)
Children are frequently ill as a result of parasites and other infections, which leads to poor school attendance and performance. Furthermore, if the school attended by an infected child does not have good sanitation and handwashing facilities the infections are likely to spread to healthy children.
There are also social impacts of poor sanitation provision in schools. An absence of latrines with separate facilities for girls and boys means that post-pubescent girls are more likely to stop attending schools, especially when menstruating (this is covered in Study Session 12). When healthy children attend a school with well segregated sanitation facilities, they are present more regularly and are better learners. This, in turn, makes them better able to find jobs that demand higher-level skills on finishing school; an advantage to them, their families and the community as a whole. This contributes to wider economic benefits, as discussed in the following section.