Clean Schools for All

Programme description

Title: Decentralized Wastewater Management: WASH in Schools in Host Communities
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Special Initiative "Tackling the root causes of displacement – reintegrating refugees"
Country: Jordan
Lead executing agency: Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

Sonderinitiative „Fluchtursachen bekämpfen – Flüchtlinge reintegrieren“. Jordanien. Grundschulkinder der Pilotschule Fatima Bint Al-Yaman in Huwara, Irbid stellen sich zur traditionellen Eröffnungszeremonie „tabour“ auf. © GIZ


Since the outbreak of civil war in 2011, around 4.8 million people have fled Syria, mostly to the neighbouring countries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Jordan had officially registered more than 655,000 Syrian refugees by mid-2016, though the government believes that as many as 1.4 million refugees may now be living in the country. More than 140,000 of them are children attending Jordanian schools. Many schools were already overcrowded before the Syrian children arrived. Now, with rising numbers attending schools, host communities face growing challenges, with administrative structures overstretched and teachers overwhelmed. A double shift system has already been introduced at 98 schools.

Making matters worse, the schools’ infrastructure was not designed to cope with rapidly rising student numbers. Water and sanitation systems, which require intensive maintenance, pose particular problems. Any failure of sanitation and hygiene management in this already water-poor country can have a devastating impact, with dirty and dilapidated toilets and washing facilities adversely affecting schoolchildren’s health in particular. Some schools are not connected to the mains water supply and sewerage system. Instead, they dispose of their wastewater in cesspits. The wastewater then seeps into groundwater, posing a risk to public health.


The sanitation and hygiene management is being improved in overcrowded schools in host communities.


On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), an infrastructure project is helping double-shift schools to tackle their sanitation and hygiene problems. Together with its Jordanian partners, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH developed low-maintenance solutions that will improve sanitation and hygiene management in schools and place it on a sustainable footing.

New toilet and washing facilities are being built, initially at 10 pilot schools, which make efficient use of water and are designed to cater for larger student numbers. The toilet blocks have been designed in line with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, with separate facilities for boys and girls and access for students with disabilities. Staff and students are taught how to use and maintain the facilities. Cleaning staff are trained in hygiene and workplace health and safety.

The project is also installing small-scale on-site wastewater treatment systems and rainwater tanks at the schools. The water collected is treated and then used by the Jordanian and Syrian children to irrigate the school gardens. These joint activities encourage friendships among children who would otherwise have little contact because of the double-shift system. The children can also take part in after-school activities, such as sports and art clubs, and learn more about water and the environment. These activities encourage interaction among student groups and help to integrate refugee families into the community, thus preventing conflict.

The project is part of the BMZ special initiative ‘Tackling the Root Causes of Displacement, Reintegrating Refugees’, which provides short-term support to refugees and their host communities. In the long term, sustainable measures are designed to eliminate the structural causes of displacement. By addressing hygiene problems in schools, this particular project benefits health and creates a better learning environment for Syrian and Jordanian schoolchildren.


To target these much-needed improvements, GIZ began by analysing the sanitation and hygiene problems at the 98 schools attended by both Jordanian and Syrian students. The findings of the analysis formed the basis for subsequent project activities. In 2015, GIZ and its partners focused initially on 10 schools attended by a total of 7,000 Jordanian and 5,000 Syrian children. By the end of 2017, a total of 117,600 school-children – 68,600 Jordanians and 49,000 Syrian refugees – will benefit from improved water and sanitation management and a better learning environment.

Sonderinitiative „Fluchtursachen bekämpfen – Flüchtlinge reintegrieren“. Jordanien. Durch gemeinsames Spielen auf dem Schulhof lernen sich die Schulkinder der Pilotschule Ajnadeen in Al Barha, Irbid kennen. © GIZ

According to estimates, at least 90,000 Syrian refugee children of school age currently have no access to education in Jordan because of schools’ lack of capacity. The need for sustainable improvements in schools is therefore likely to increase in the near future. GIZ focuses mainly on communities in northern Jordan and in Amman, Irbid and Zarqa metropolitan areas, which are hosting most of the refugees. As crises spread across Syria and the Middle East, local solutions developed in conjunction with partners offer significant potential for national scaling-up.