Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities and Female School Attendance: A study of Savelugu Municipality of Ghana


  • Bismark K Anyarayor University for Development Studies Tamale, Ghana
  • Amin Alhassan Department of Communication, Innovation and Technology, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana
  • Faisal M Amadu University for Development Studies Tamale, Ghana



Sanitation, Female School Attendance, Open Defecation, Savelugu Municipality, Ghana.


The study investigates the extent to which access to adequate and improved sanitation influence school attendance of female students in public senior high schools in the Savelugu municipality of Ghana. A cross sectional survey design using both qualitative and quantitative methods was used to collect data in Savelugu Senior High School and Pong-Tamale Senior High School, all in the Savelugu Municipality. A total of 345 female students and two headmasters and six assistant headmasters from the two senior high schools were interviewed. The data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics of Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The study established that the availability of improved and adequate sanitation facilities was significant in determining the extent of use, and school attendance of females in such schools. The study established that lack of privacy and insecurity caused by substandard sanitation facilities contributed to female student absenteeism. The study further revealed that the availability of improved sanitation facilities could account for 38.3% percent of the change in the level of sanitation use and its impact on female school attendance. We recommend that school management teams should ensure adequate provision of improved sanitation facilities in every public senior high school as part of efforts to improve female students school attendance.  

Author Biography

Amin Alhassan, Department of Communication, Innovation and Technology, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana

Associate Professor of Development Communication, University for Development Studies, Tamale


Adukia, A. (2013). Sanitation and Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Alhassan, A & Anyarayor B. K., (2018). Determinants of adoption of open defecation free (ODF) innovations: A case study of Nadowli-Kaleo district, Ghana. Journal of Development and Communication Studies, 5 (2), 54 – 69.

Anyarayor B. K., (2017). Dynamics of sustainable behavior change in sanitation practices in Nadowli/Kaleo district (Unpublished Thesis) Tamale, Ghana: University for Development Studies.

Asyago, B. (2005). An investigation into the challenges facing the Free Primary Education Management: The case of Machakos District. Kenya. Unpublished MEd Thesis, Nairobi: Kenyatta University.

Birdthistle, I., Dickson, K., Freeman, M., Javidi, L. 2011. What impact does the provision of separate toilets for girls at schools have on their primary and secondary school enrolment, attendance and completion? A systematic review of the evidence. London: UKAID

Duo, E. (2012). Women empowerment and economic development. Journal of Economic Literature, 50(4): 1051-1079.

Freeman, M. C., Clasen, T., Brooker, S. J., Akoko, D. O., & Rheingans, R. (2013). The impact of a school-based hygiene, water quality and sanitation intervention on soil-transmitted helminth reinfection: a cluster randomized trial. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene, 89(5), 875 - 883

Hesse-Biber, S. N. (2010). Mixed methods research: Merging theory with practice. New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Kirk, J., Sommer, M. (2006). Menstruation and body awareness: linking girls’ health with girls’ education. Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Special on Gender and Health, pp. 1-22, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Available at: (accessed 12 September 2018).

Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2005). Practical research: Planning and design (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Malusu, L.N., Zani, A.P., (2014). An evaluation of the perception of secondary school students towards menstruation in Kenya. African Journal of Education and Technology 4 (1), 83–96.

Mason, L., Nyothach, E., Alexander, K., Odhiambo, F.O., Eleveld, A., Vulule, J., Rheingans, R., Laserson, K.F., Mohammed, A., Phillips-Howard, P.A., (2013). ‘We Keep It Secret So No One Should Know’– a qualitative study to explore young schoolgirls attitudes and experiences with menstruation in Rural Western Kenya. PLoS ONE 8 (11), 1–11.

Mason, L., Laserson, K., Oruko, K., Nyothach, E., Alexander, K., Odhiambo, F, & Phillips-Howard, P. (2015). Adolescent schoolgirls’ experiences of menstrual cups and pads in rural western Kenya: a qualitative study. Waterlines, 34(1), 15-30.

Melik, J., (2011). Poor sanitation stifles economic growth. BBC News Online 18 November 2011 Edition <> (accessed 12 September 2018).

Mensch, B.S., Lloyd, C.B., (1998). Gender differences in the schooling experiences of adolescents in low-income countries: the case of Kenya. Studies in Family Planning 29 (2), 167–184.

Mills, Joanna Esteves & Cumming, Oliver (2016) The impact of water, sanitation and hygiene on key health and social outcomes: Review of evidence. London: UKAID/UNICEF

Mugenda, O.M. and Mugenda, A.G. (2003). Research methods; Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Nairobi: African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) Press.

Mugo, E .W (2006). Strategies Adopted by Primary Schools Head teachers in Managing Free Primary Education in Embu District Kenya: Unpublished Med Thesis, Nairobi: Kenyatta University.

Muito, M., (2004). Gender equality in the classroom: reflections on practice. Paper presented at the Beyond Access: Gender, education and development project seminar on pedagogic strategies for gender equality and quality education in basic schools 2004. (accessed 12 May 2017).

Mutunga, P., Stewart, J., (2003). Life Skills, Sexual Maturation and Sanitation: What’s (Not) Happening in Our Schools? An Exploratory Study from Kenya. Harare: University of Zimbabwe Women’s Law Centre.

Scott, L., Dopson, S., Montgomery, P., Dolan, C., Ryus, C., (2009). Impact of Providing Sanitary Pads to Poor Girls in Africa. Working Paper. SAID Business School, University of Oxford.

Siwolo, I. A. (2004). The Financial Challenges Facing the Management of Primary Schools after the Introduction of F.P.E: A case of Wetlands Division, Nairobi. Kenya; Unpublished MEd Thesis. Nairobi: Kenyatta University.

Sommer, M (2011) Integrating menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into the school water, sanitation and hygiene agenda. In: Shaw, R.J. (ed). The future of water, sanitation and hygiene in low-income countries - Innovation, adaptation and engagement in a changing world: Proceedings of the 35th WEDC International Conference, Loughborough, UK, 6-8 July 2011,

Sommer, M., (2010). The Puberty (Kubalehe) Book, 2010 (accessed 25 December 2017).

Sweetman Caroline & Medland, Louise (2017) Introduction: gender and water, sanitation and hygiene, Gender & Development, 25:2, 153-166, DOI:10.1080/13552074.2017.1349867

WaterAid’s (2017). Out of Order: The State of the World’s Toilet. London, UK: WaterAid available at: (accessed 2 January 2018)

Willmott M, Nicholson A, Busse H, et al. (2016) Effectiveness of hand hygiene interventions in reducing illness absence among children in educational settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis Arch Dis Child 2016; 101:42 – 50.

UN (2017). Sustainable Development Goal. (accessed 14 February 2018)

UNICEF, (2008). Girls; Education Campaigns. (accessed 14 February 2018).

UNICEF/WHO (2017) Joint monitoring programme report. Available at: (accessed 24 November 2018)

USAID (2018). Water and Development Strategy. (Accessed 20 May 2018

World Bank, (2011). World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development. <> (accessed 5 July.2018).

Ziem, Joseph (2015) “Of education in the Northern Region and its sinking quality” (accessed on 20 December 2018)