This study assessed water, sanitation and hygiene practices in public and private secondary schools in Buea. A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted from November 2017 to June 2018 in Buea. Students from Baptist High School Buea, Government Bilingual High School Muea, Buea, Government Technical High School Molyko, Buea and Summerset Secondary School Buea were assessed on water, sanitation and hygiene practices. Data were collected using questionnaire and direct observations. A total of 384 students were sampled, and probability proportionate to size was used to determine the sample size per school. The statistical software SPSS V20 and Microsoft Excel were used to analyze the data. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. Majority, 290 (75.5%), of the students were from public secondary schools; most, 314 (81.1%), of the students were from schools with secured space (fence). Using public tap as the main source of water was significantly associated with the type of school (X2=62.239, P=0.000). A greater proportion 285 (98.2%)[95%CI:96-99] of public secondary schools and 68 (72.2%)[95%CI:62-81] of private secondary schools do not have basic WASH facilities (wash stand, wash hand bolls, soap) closer to the toilet for use by the students. A greater percentage, 126 (43.6%)[95%CI:38-49], of students from public secondary schools and a majority, 59 (62.6%)[95%CI:52-73], from private secondary schools said water scarcity is the reason why they do not wash their hands after using the toilet. The results of this study show that there is inadequate water supply, poor sanitation and hygiene practices within the study area. Schools associations should collaborate and make available facilities like soap and toilet tissues and even construction of modern toilets in schools to foster the practice of hygiene activities.
Key words: Water, sanitation, hygiene, students, private and public secondary schools.
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