The status of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in most schools in Malawi remains unacceptable. Some schools still don't have sanitation facilities, and less than 5% of schools provide handwashing facilities with soap. While access to water is quite encouraging at 81%, it still means that children from 19% of the schools drink from unprotected sources.

Our work in school settings is built on the understanding that WASH and education are human rights and critical to human development. Without these facilities in schools, children are more likely to get ill and miss out on an education. Better water, sanitation and hygiene in schools improves health, boosts school attendance and promotes gender equality.

School children wash their faces, in Kasungu, Malawi, July 2016.
WaterAid/Malumbo Simwaka
Children enjoying clean water at their school in Kasungu.

Furthermore, children and adolescents are effective agents of hygiene behaviour change, sharing the lessons they learn in school with their families and wider communities. 

We work together with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and other sector players to advocate for and implement better water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools. 

We also collaborate with local communities for contextually local solutions, as well as the private sector and specialist organisations for advice on inclusion such as accessible toilets for persons with disabilities and menstrual hygiene management facilities for girls.

Hygiene behaviour change is an important part of our work, and we use schools as centres through which to teach good hygiene practices.

Through our work, we have reached over 50 schools in the past five years: that's over 120,000 children and adolescents. Our work around hygiene behaviour and improved sanitation facilities has had a particularly positive impact on girls, who no longer have to miss school because of menstruation. 

Empowered and knowledgeable citizens are key to applying pressure and demanding the change required to achieve access to WASH for everyone everywhere.


Globally, Malawi has the highest maternal and neonatal mortality rates, with approximately 20% of those deaths attributed to sepsis.

Hygiene behaviour change

Hygiene behaviour change encourages the widespread adoption of safe hygiene practices in order to keep people and their environments clean and healthy.