Enabling Policy Environment for Wash in Schools

The National School WASH Assessment, the country’s first ever comprehensive analysis of water, sanitation, and hygiene in primary schools was completed in 2008. The need to have a national assessment on the water, sanitation, and hygiene in primary schools was expressed at different fora since 2002. The assessment was guided by issues raised in the National Water Policy (2007) and the National Sanitation Policy (2008). The assessment was conducted in 5,379 of the country’s 5,460 schools, giving a 98.5% response rate.


The Education sector is guided by core policy documents; the Education Act (1962); the National Education Sector Plan (NESP, 2008); The Education Policy and Investment Plan (PIF 2002); and the National Strategy for Community Participation in Primary School Management (2004). Other related guiding documents include the National Water Policy (2007); the National Sanitation Policy (2008); the National Decentralization Policy (2005); the National Gender Policy (2004); and the National HIV Policy, among others. These policies provide a framework for facilitating improved water supply, sanitation, and hygiene, in enhancing quality education in primary schools.

UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education is currently in the process of recruiting a team of consultants to research and recommend suitable latrine designs for Malawi’s primary schools, which can then be incorporated into the “Norms and Guidelines for Primary School Construction’”manual, which is currently being finalized. The Netherlands Government, Belgian and UK NatComs and GUCCI are currently the major donors for WASH in Schools. UNICEF, CPAR, DAPP, Save the Children, WaterAid, Water For People, GIZ, InterAide and WorldVision are key partners for WASH in Schools.

Quality and Coverage of WASH in Schools Programming

The introduction of the Free Primary Education Policy made primary education universally accessible to all school age children in 1994. These events had an impact on the quality of education as well as on water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in schools. New schools were established in sites that in some cases were not suitable for the purpose, and this was particularly serious with the private sector; and with the introduction of free primary education the number of pupils became disproportionate to the facilities available, particularly on school water, sanitation, and hygiene (School WASH).

The School WASH Assessment report has helped to assess the gaps in Primary Schools throughout the country, and increased awareness of the importance of safe, private and adequate facilities. Since 2008 several water, sanitation and hygiene indicators have been included in the EMIS system to allow for annual monitoring


Organizations Working in Wash in Schools



Government of Netherlands

Belgian and UK NatComs

Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR)

Development Aid from People to People (DAPP)

Save the Children


Water for People