21/08/2015 13:29 BST | Updated 21/08/2016 06:59 BST

Why Taps and Toilets Are Helping Children Gain an Education

We've all been there, standing in line to use the toilet. The wait can seem like forever, but in reality it's probably only a few inconvenient minutes. Now imagine having to wait for hours every single day just to use a private toilet, only to find the facilities lacking at the front of the queue and nothing to wash your hands with. Or even worse, being forced to defecate in the open because there simply aren't any toilets.


WaterAid / Sohrab Hura

This was the reality for students like 12-year-old Sakshi. She loves to study, but at her school in India there was just one toilet for 341 girls and boys to use. The queues were long and Sakshi would regularly miss out on lessons as she waited to use the toilet. A lack of clean drinking water often meant that Sakshi and her classmates would struggle to concentrate in class.

Thankfully, Sakshi's situation has changed. Earlier this year, WaterAid installed new water points and separate toilets for boys and girls at Sakshi's school in Mahoba district, Uttar Pradesh, which have made a big difference to the lives of both the teachers and students.

"When the new toilets were constructed at our school, I used to turn on the taps and see how the water flowed. It felt really good," says Sakshi. "Now, we don't even have to miss our studies."


Sakshi drinking clean water

WaterAid / Sohrab Hura

WaterAid and the H&M Conscious Foundation have been working closely with three local partners across three districts in the Bundelkhand region of India - Chitrakoot, Banda and Mahoba, to improve the facilities in schools.

In the past year alone, WaterAid and the H&M Conscious Foundation have reached over 75,000 students, like Sakshi; providing schools with clean water, sanitation and hygiene promotion. By 2017, our Global Programme aims to deliver safe, clean water, toilets to 250,000 school students.

As well as new taps and toilets children now have greater awareness about how to stay clean and safe from water-related illnesses. From learning about personal cleanliness to how to use sanitary pads.

With access to clean water and proper toilets, Sakshi and her fellow classmates have been empowered to live healthier lives. By promoting good hygiene at school they can also pass on what they have learnt to the wider community.


Teacher, Reena, conducts a class on health and hygiene at Sakshi's school in Mahoba district, Uttar Pradesh, India

WaterAid / Sohrab Hura

But there is still more to be done. One in ten people globally live without access to basic water and shockingly one in three people still don't have access to a safe, private toilet.

This week is World Water Week - the annual week-long conference to discuss the urgent global water challenges of today. It's a week in which international governments, donors, businesses and civil society meet in Stockholm to share ideas and solutions, which could help change the lives of millions of children, just like Sakshi, around the world. On the agenda at the conference will be this September's Sustainable Development Goals, which will set the ambition for universal access to water and sanitation by 2030.

WaterAid and the H&M Conscious Foundation campaigned hard for water and sanitation to be included in the new UN Sustainable Development Framework. Now we're calling on Heads of State and Governments to endorse a dedicated goal on water and sanitation, and for all schools to have these basic services by 2030.

Taps and toilets don't just save lives; they create a ripple effect of health and opportunity. They mean children like Sakshi are able to go to school and get an education.

Together during World Water Week, we can help drive the change that's needed, and help to create a water wise world.

For more information on the latest achievements in the H&M Foundation's Global Programme with WaterAid go to:

Watch this video and find out how new taps and toilets are making a difference at Sakshi's school in Mahoba, India: H&M Conscious Foundation and WaterAid's Global Programme for Clean Water - Year One