Since 2005, travelers like you have helped us change the world through micro-donations.

  1. A total of

  2. donated
    (100% funded)

  3. to help improve
    Water & Sanitation

  4. in
    Papua New Guinea

Project Background

In recent years, access to quality schools and education has improved in Papua New Guinea. Yet, despite increasing educational opportunities, dropout rates among girls remain high and completion rates low. 

When facilities at school such as private toilets and available health information neglects to focus on the needs of girls, girls often have no choice other than to stay away from school. Missed days add up and girls often drop out of school to face an uncertain future. 

After much research and by working closely with women and girls, we know girls are more likely to drop out of school as they enter their teenage years.  More specifically, we know girls find it difficult to stay in school for some of the following reasons:

  • Girls walk long distances and spend hours collecting water for household use and for drinking at school.
  • Girls prefer to stay home to manage their periods due to a lack of private and separate toilets for girls and boys, running water, soap for cleaning and sanitary bins.
  • Sanitary products are unavailable or expensive to buy, forcing girls to use cloth, toilet paper or nothing at all. This can be uncomfortable and extremely embarrassing and difficult to manage at school.
  • Menstruation is a taboo subject in Papua New Guinea; this creates stigma and shame.
  • Cultural and social norms in Papua New Guinea encourages early marriage and childrearing.
  • Helping with household chores such as collecting water, cooking and caring for siblings holds more value than being at school.
  • Contaminated drinking water at school causes a number of diseases, increasing absenteeism; this is also true for boys.

Project Objectives & Outcomes


1. Increase school retention rates for adolescent girls in Papua New Guinea. 

2. Support girls to be healthy, educated and empowered to pursue a bright future. 


  • Four schools have upgraded and improved facilities such as clean running water, boys and girls toilets, washing facilities and sanitary disposal units.
  • Girls are accessing and using comfortable, locally produced, affordable sanitary hygiene products.
  • Girls have the privacy and dignity at school and in their community to manage their periods.
  • Girls and boys are knowledgeable around the importance of sexual reproductive health and family planning.
  • Young women make their own choices around family planning to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
  • Raised awareness amongst teachers, parents, students, entire communities and decision-makers means female health is less a taboo in Papua New Guinea.

What's Covered in Project Costs

Footprints funding will contribute to improving school retention rates for adolescent girls and improving the health and well-being of young women in Papua New Guinea by:

  • Improving water, sanitation and hygiene facilities at four rural schools, including building boys’ and girls’ toilets, washrooms and a sanitary disposal system at each school.
  • Developing a school curriculum to help deliver classroom based education for boys and girls around menstrual and sexual reproductive health, and family planning.
  • Training teachers to deliver monthly classroom based lessons around hygiene and sexual reproductive health.
  • Holding awareness events and learning sessions for parents and other members of the community around the importance of female health.

Project Partners & Community Involvement

WaterAid is working in partnership with Marie Stopes International and our local NGO partners in Papua New Guinea. The project was carefully co-designed with our partners and together we will implement project activities.

By coming together to share knowledge, resources and expertise, we will reach more girls than we could ever reach on our own. By doing so, this project represents a powerful approach to improving the health and well-being of adolescent girls and reducing poverty by creating positive environments that allow girls to finish their schooling. 

WaterAid will lead the coordination of regional activities around shared learning and knowledge dissemination in Australia, regionally and globally. In addition, we will build on our existing relationships with national and sub-national government and private partners to strengthen uptake of program into national policies and to improve project sustainability.

How This Project Fits Into a Larger Strategy

The ‘Keeping Girls in School’ project is a new and innovative project that has been designed to reach both girls and their communities in Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.

Commencing in July 2017, and spanning over three years, project activities will be simultaneously implemented in each country. Activities in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste have been tailored to suit the social norms, culture, government priorities and needs of students and their communities in each country.

Traveling soon? When you buy travel insurance with us, you can make a contribution towards a cause you care about.

Get a quote