Baseline Assessment of Access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools and Hospitals in the Northern Oblasts of Kyrgyzstan (Issyk Kul, Naryn and Talas)
Sanitation and hygiene are important aspects of the life of modern society. This was not always the case, but with the beginning of sedentary life and large concentrations of people, these issues became more and more acute. The danger of spread of infections and parasitic diseases began to grow – this is no longer just an individual problem of the person suffering, but also becomes a collective threat to any settlement, from a small village to a megapolis. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the level of sanitation and hygiene in the Kyrgyz Republic, like in all the other former Soviet republics, fell significantly. This is testified to by the growth in infectious and parasitic diseases associated mortality, including that resulting from limited access to clean drinking water.
Drinking water is a key environmental factor, which can have both positive and negative impact on human health.
In order to ensure public health, through preventative measures and otherwise, the condition, quality, and specificities of drinking water should be determined. These, along with effective systems for cleaning and disinfecting, and also the degree of wear and tear of water supply systems with the potential to lead to secondary pollution, is closely connected to the sources and natural properties of water, which varies in different territories.
The second most important factor for the preservation of public health is practice based on understanding the importance of observing sanitary and hygienic norms and rules. Hygiene and sanitation are important parts of our daily lives. Understanding hygiene norms and applying hygiene skills are essential for prevention of disease, increasing the population’s ability to work and combating organisms that negatively affect the environment.
However, the sanitary system of Kyrgyzstan’s society is in deep crisis today. This sanitary crisis is fraught with serious consequences for the lives of the population and their abilities to make a living. The most serious consequence of this crisis is its effect on youth. Children are often deprived of information about healthy lifestyles and access to essential quality products important for their lives is difficult for them.
This publication presents the results of a baseline assessment of statistical material about sanitation, hygiene and access to drinking water at the national scale, and also the summarised results of qualitative and quantitative research in three regions – Issyk Kul, Talas and Naryn. The research was carried out in March and April 2011.
The main aims of the research, initiated by the UNICEF WASH programme, were to carry out an integrated assessment of current sanitary and hygienic possibilities along with access to clean drinking water, awareness about sanitary and hygienic procedures in schools and healthcare institutions, the impact of the community’s consumption level on accessibility and safety of drinking water, sanitary conditions in public places, and also risks connected to the level of hygiene and sanitation in Naryn, Issyk Kul and Talas oblasts.
In order to reveal the overall situation in the field of sanitation and hygiene for the purposes of this project, the research stage included analysis of existing statistical data provided by the National Statistical Committee, the Ministry of Education and Science, the World Health Organisation, the Centre for State Sanitary Epidemiological Surveillance of the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Health itself. Subsequently integrated qualitative and quantitative sociological research was carried out in the regions.
The research authors are grateful to specialists from the Leader Centre for Civil Initiatives (Issyk Kul Oblast), Agenty Peremen (Talas Oblast) and the NGO Resource Centre (Naryn Oblast), which directly participated in the research and collected survey data in the oblasts; and also all the experts and reviewers for their valuable commentary and suggestions that have led to a more accurate and high quality research report.