Enabling Policy Environment for Wash in Schools

The Ministry of Education and Science (MES) is the lead agency for implementation of WASH in Schools programming in Mongolia. MES has agreed to develop improved policies and mechanisms related to WASH in schools with UNICEF support.

  •  A formal working group on Water and Sanitation was recently formed by two Ministry Decrees (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Nature, Environment & Tourism (former name). UNICEF is part of this working group. Although it is not specifically set up to address school WASH issues, its main function is to coordinate Water and Sanitation issues at the national level.
  • There is no National Standards or Guidelines for WASH in Schools in Mongolia, nor is there a national budget allocation for WASH in Schools programming. However Mongolia does have a national programme on water, which includes some aspects of a sanitation strategy.
  • UNICEF Mongolia plans to support MES to develop WASH in Schools guidelines by 2013. These guidelines are to be approved by MES in 2013 and applied in targeted areas in 2014.
  • In the last country programme (2007-2011) UNICEF Mongolia promoted WASH in Schools activities in target areas.
  • UNICEF, ACF, Mongolian Red Cross and World Vision are WASH cluster partners and key partners for WASH in schools programming.


Quality and Coverage of WASH in Schools Programming

Since the establishment of the UNICEF Country Office in Mongolia in early 1990’s, UNICEF has been supporting and promoting WASH issues in the education sector and the local community level. During 2010-2011, UNICEF supported the reconstruction of WASH facilities in over 20 schools and kindergartens in 12 villages (soums) of 3 western, 1 eastern, and 3 southern provinces (aimags), and 3 districts of Ulaanbaatar. Some of these activities will be continued in 2012 in one eastern and three southern aimags.

  •  Currently, there is no data available on bathrooms where children can take a shower. There is also almost no data on soap use among school children.
  • The 2010 Mongolia Global School Based Heath Survey (for students in grades 7-12 aged 12-18 years old in Mongolia) found that two in five students wash their hands regularly before eating meals or after using toilet and use soap when washing hands. One in ten students (9.7%) said that there are no toilets or sinks at school. This was particularly problematic amongst rural students (16.0%). One third of students (35.4%) said there were not enough toilets or sinks at their school.
  • A 2007 study on school dormitory conditions was conducted by the former Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. It showed that only 22% of the dormitories had indoor toilets and the remaining 78 % had outdoor latrines – most of which were unsafe and unhygienic.
  • A recent study on school dormitory conditions showed that the water supply for 74% of 502 dormitories then in use was carried from outside water kiosks and wells, and 46% of the water supply did not meet hygienic standards.



Mongolia’s economic growth was 17.2% in 2011 (up from 6.4% in 2010) and is expecting to increase during the coming years, mainly due to the mining sector growth. It faces high inflation, and soaring food prices. However, a significant percentage of the population remains largely untouched by the nation’s economic growth. The poverty rate has remained stagnant at 35% nationally and 50% in rural and peri-urban areas. 73% of the poor work in low-paying jobs in urban centres or in rural herding and farming households. Nationwide, 42% of children live in poverty and 21% suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Mongolia also faces challenges related to its geography, harsh climate and lack of national road infrastructure, which make logistical planning and implementation costlier and more problematic than in many countries. Climate change has also engendered such challenges as increasingly extreme temperatures in summer and winter, water shortages, poor water quality, land degradation and desertification, all of which directly threaten livelihoods and national food security.

Overall, Mongolia is on-track for meeting the MDG 7 targets for drinking water; the sanitation target remains a major concern, as the country is off-track for rural sanitation. In Mongolia, 82% of households have access to improved water sources and around 51 % are using improved sanitation facilities. Lack of proper water and sanitation in rural schools and dormitories, where children spend up to nine months of the year, remains a critical area of concern.

Currently, local government lacks capacity to support operation and management (O&M) of the WASH facilities at the schools. However, each school receives a small maintenance budget for WASH facilities (mostly for cleaning costs) from central government via Provincial Education Departments. Therefore, a school itself will be the main responsible organization for maintenance of the WASH facilities at the school. Support must be provided to the schools in managing the systems.

Organizations Working in Wash in Schools


Red Cross