Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are vital indicators to healthy living and safe environments for child development. The aim of this study was to determine WASH status and practices in early childhood development (ECD) centres located in poorer areas of Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, during 2017.
This cross-sectional study elicited responses from 46 ECD centres, with 3,254 children and 172 caregivers. A structured questionnaire and visual observation were used. Using core WASH in schools indicators (WinS) showed that despite improved water sources being available in 91 per cent of the facilities, WinS for hygiene was poor.
The study observed that 57 per cent of respondents had improved toilets accommodating both genders. In 29 per cent of ECD centres, 6–10 children make use of a ‘pottie’ while in 9 percent of centres, more than 20 children make use of one ‘pottie’. The use of the bucket system was noted in 22 per cent of the ECD centres. In 79 percent of the centres, children wash their hands in a communal plastic bowl. Only 11 per cent of the study population washed hands hygienically under a running tap or tippy tap.
WASH conditions in the ECD centres in the study area require urgent attention and further investigation for practical solutions.