There were no WASH in Schools programming in Armenia. Save the Children started its project in January 2011, and the project will be implemented in 12 rural communities of three provinces of Armenia, including Armavir, Aragatsotn and Gegahrkunik provinces.
Since the independence of former Soviet states, Armenia, like other countries, has been dealing with problems related to adequate water supply and safe sanitation for public institutions. The existing central water and sewage systems are often poorly maintained or no longer functioning. Educational facilities are not an exception as they have relied on scarce state resources to support the physical infrastructure. Schools in Armenia being state-funded, especially those in rural areas, often completely lack drinking-water, sanitation and hand washing facilities.
According to the survey carried out by UNICEF, the interviewed school children reported that there was no clean drinking water at schools and nowhere to wash their hands. Absence of hygiene in schools was higher in small cities and in rural areas. One out of every three respondents stated that they never wash their hands before eating at school, while half of those surveyed either rarely or never wash their hands before eating. Speaking of life skills education at school, half of the students said that hand washing was not discussed in their classes. Survey data showed that 60 percent of female and 70 percent of male students never or rarely use the toilets in their schools.
Some students expressed not using the toilets out of concern over their cleanliness (41 percent said the latrines are not clean at their schools), but a fair amount were also concerned about the social implications of using the toilet, and reported feeling ashamed to do so at school. Schools with poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions, and intense levels of person-to-person contact, are high-risk environments for children and staff, and exacerbate children’s particular susceptibility to environmental health hazards. Moreover, children’s ability to learn may be affected by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in several ways including helminthes, diarrhea and other infections. In addition, lack of adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene can contribute to girls’ absenteeism from school during critical days.
Finally, communities in which schoolchildren are exposed to disease risk because of inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene at school are themselves more at risk because families bear the burden of their children’s illness due to bad schooling conditions.