Assessing Students’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices on Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Related Diseases in Selected Schools in Musanze District, Rwanda
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Poor water supply, lack of adequate sanitation, and bad hygiene practices with attendant diseases are killing many people each year in developing countries, including Rwanda, and children under the age of five are the most vulnerable. The research assessed students’ hygiene attitudes and practices, sanitation practices, knowledge on related diseases, knowledge on sources of clean water, and knowledge on causes and prevention of selected WASH related diseases.The study also investigated water availability for drinking and sanitation, and sanitation facilities in schools. A total of 1173 students was selected from a population of 2900 students for the survey.Six teachers and six school directors also participated in the survey. Respondents were selected from three rural and three urban schools. Data were collected using questionnaires and analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). From the results, it was noted that students’ attitudes to hygiene in rural and urban schools are the same as they all agree on the necessity to wash hands after visiting the toilet and before eating. The level of concern for hygiene is higher in urban schools than in rural schools and the practice of using latrine for human faeces disposal is not common across both rural and urban schools. Also students’ knowledge on diseases related to contact with human faeces in both rural and urban schools is not the same as urban students have more knowledge than rural students while tap water was mentioned to be the major source of clean drinking water for students in rural and urban schools. The students in both rural and urban schools have no knowledge on the causes of Shigellosis and trachoma. However, they have tittle knowledge on causes of Diarrhea, Cholera, Malaria, and typhoid and generally, they have little knowledge on the prevention Shigellosis, Trachoma, Diarrhea, Cholera, Malaria, and typhoid. It was observed that water shortage was a common issue, though water supplied in school was physically clean.All the three rural schools faced water shortage while only one school had this problem in urban center. All schools are supplied through the municipal water system with 66.7% iv claiming low supply pressure. All schools visited have pit latrines which are improved sanitation facilities and the toilets were clean. However, in all schools located in rural areas, there were no hand washing facilities and no soap, while in urban schools, hand washing facilities were available, but with no soap. The school authorities are to device programs which will specifically educate students on the importance of washing hands after using the toilets, washing hands and raw food before eating and on the causes and prevention of water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases. Full water supply and sanitation coverage in schools, monitoring of implementation of UNICEF/WHO WASH guidelines in schools and dissemination of WASH related diseases message in health centers, clinics and hospitals after treating WASH diseases related patients is recommended.