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Presentation of Public Defender's Special Report on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Public Schools of Georgia

On 11 February 2019, the Public Defender of Georgia presented a special report on the right to water and sanitation, importance of its realization and related challenges in Georgia.

The Public Defender spoke about the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in general education institutions at the opening of the meeting. "The monitoring showed problems that daily threaten the health of children and prevent the effective realization of the right to education," Nino Lomjaria said.

For the purpose of preparing a report, the Public Defender's Office had been monitoring the siutation of the right to safe water and sanitation in 2018. In particular, the Office checked the national and international legislations, monitored 108 public schools, organized focus groups for students, studied the internal regulations of schools and proccessed the obtained information together with relevant experts.

Monitoring showed that drinking and techincal water is less available in many schools; water facilities and toilets are out of order, anti-sanitary situation was reported in some cases. The lack of water creates problems for students, as well as school staff and cleaners, as they have to fetch technical water from the locals’ yards or water facilities located several kilometers away. In such conditions, students cannot get enough drinking water, wash their hands, etc.

Some toilets are non-isolated and need to be repaired (in some cases, toilets do not have doors or the hand-washing tap is out of order); the sewage system is not functioning.

The school staff and children’s awareness of safety of drinking water is low, which is particularly important due to the fact that water safety has never been monitored in 71.3% of the monitored institutions. 77.4% of schools do not have special internal regulations on access to water.

The monitoring showed that public schools are unable to check water safety in the accredited laboratories on their initiative due to the problem of territorial or financial accessibility. In addition, some representatives of shcool administration are not informed of how water safety should be checked or which agency is responsbile for it.

The challenges related to the right to water and sanitation were mentioned in the Public Defender's parliamentary report 2017. Specifically, it is indicated in the report that water is not suppied to 94 public schools at all, while water and sanitary norms are checked only in small percentage of 2 084 public schools; However, elimination of violations or development of an effective response mechanism remains to be an unsolved problem.

The Report on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Public Schools of Georgia was prepared by the Public Defender Office’s with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.

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