WASH in Schools brings One Health to Life - GIZ's Fit for School Approach

GIZ Fit for School
Published: 01 March 2022
Last edited: 04 March 2022
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The GIZ regional Fit for School programme promotes and supports tangible actions in schools that are contributing to the practical implementation of the One Health concept. WASH in Schools (WinS) and improved hygiene are the strong uniting elements:


Human Health 

  • Improving health and personal hygiene Improved health through evidence based interventions (e.g. handwashing, deworming, toothbrushing, cleaning)


  • Improved school environment (access to WASH)
  • Water-saving handwashing technologies
  • Waste management


  • Bi-annual school-based deworming according to national guidelines Improved food hygiene, where applicable
  • Elimination of pathogens from the school yard
  • Keeping animals out from the school premises
  • Zero open defecation

These actions, facilitated by measures that enable their implementation and management, not only directly benefit school environments, but also provide practical models and knowledge for better resilience, preparedness and response of schools to the current and future pandemics.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Buildings and facilities
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Gender mainstreaming
Health and human wellbeing
Infrastructure maintenance
Legal & policy frameworks
One Health
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change
One Health
Health related aspects of socio-economic factors such as poverty, education, social security structures, digitalisation, financing systems, human capacity development 
Neglected tropical diseases, emerging infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance
Water, sanitation and hygiene
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 6: Enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Indirect through government


Manila, Philippines | Southeast Asia
Vientiane, Laos
Jakarta, Indonesia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia


The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the still sizable gaps in access to safe drinking water, functional toilets, and handwashing facilities at schools around the world.  According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) on Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, 287 million children attend schools which use water from an unimproved source, such as an unprotected well or river, or have no water source at all. A further 367 million go to schools which have no sanitation facilities or only unimproved sanitation facilities, and 462 million visit schools with no handwashing facilities at all. 


Diseases related to lack of hygiene, such as diarrhea, intestinal worms, and other infectious diseases, are still among the leading causes of illness and death among children in many countries. 


Schools are important community places where children spend a great part of their day. They are an ideal setting for providing a healthy and safe environment to benefit health and education. They also set examples for parents and the community at large.

How do the building blocks interact?

Schools are also places where the three different domains of One Health naturally intersect and can be implemented in tangible ways. The school’s environment itself influences child health and well-being, contact with and spread of pathogens and other health risks.

The Covid-19 pandemic has again highlighted this central role of schools. The transmission mode of Covid-19 requires schools to step-up their efforts for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) – particularly water and facilities for handwashing, as well as increased surface hygiene throughout the school facilities. On the other hand, the school as an institution provides a setting for implementing and managing practical One Health measures within its scope of action.


Fit for School strengthens the education sector and intersectoral collaboration by working along the four key principles of simplicity, scalability, sustainability and systemic thinking - enables governments and line ministries to:

  • Work together effectively across different sectors.
  • Develop a comprehensive supportive policy framework for WinS.
  • Develop WinS monitoring and recognition systems that trigger action.
  • Build capacity for practical implementation and better management at all levels, including the school level.


Human Health

Proven health and hygiene improvements among children in schools participating in the Fit for School Programme:

  • Daily toothbrushing practices led to 17 to 37% less tooth decay among students in implementing schools
  • Programme strengthened the implementation of existing national deworming programmes
  • Interventions showed positive health effects in terms of weight increase
  • Better access to WASH facilities, and improved practice of handwashing with soap


WinS leads to healthier learning environments. WASH related environmental aspects are addressed in schools:  

  • WASHALOT 3.0, a lowcost group handwashing station with minimal water use developed
  • Waste management as part of WinS policies (e.g. Philippines, Indonesia)


Improved personal hygiene and safer learning environments lead to reduced pathogen exposure:

  • Regular handwashing leads to interruption of fecal-oral disease transmission
  • Collaboration with World Food Programme to improve food hygiene in Lao PDR
  • Improved sanitation and less open defecation
  • Implementation of regular school-based deworming
  • Vector-Control (e.g. elimination of mosquito breeding places on school grounds)
  • No animals on school grounds



GIZ Fit for School

‘What gets monitored gets done’

Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly SDG6 (clean water and sanitation), but also SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG4 (quality education), and SDG5 (gender equality) – the attention being paid to WASH in schools has risen markedly. 

At the global level the JMP leads efforts to monitor progress towards SDG targets, using a ‘service ladder’ approach to classify schools according to the level of WASH services they provide (advanced, limited, basic or no service). National governments report annually against these targets, setting their own national WASH standards for schools and monitoring progress towards them. 

‘Monitoring and evaluation systems drive action,’ explains Bella Monse, senior advisor with the Regional Fit for School Program, which is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in partnership with the South-East Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) on behalf of BMZ. ‘It’s often said that “what gets monitored gets done,”’ she continues. ‘Our experience has shown this to be true.’ 

The Regional Fit for School Program works closely with ministries of education in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines to implement and monitor strategies designed to incentivise sustainable improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene in schools. The Three Star Approach is one such strategy. Developed in 2013 as a joint effort between UNICEF and GIZ, and first introduced in the Philippines through the Department of Education, the Three Star Approach is a national benchmarking system which helps schools to bridge the gap between currently existing WASH services and national standards based on SDG-linked global targets. 

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Jan Schlenk Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

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Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH