Only about half of public schools in Japan designated to serve as shelters in times of disaster had the ability as of April 1 to provide alternative toilet facilities if water supplies were cut off, an education ministry survey showed Tuesday.

Given the survey result, the ministry will ask local education boards across the country to promote the installation of disaster toilets at schools.

Some of the people who took shelter at schools after powerful earthquakes struck Kumamoto Prefecture and other parts of Kyushu in April 2016 suffered deteriorations in their health due to a lack of proper toilet facilities.

The survey covered 30,994 public elementary, junior high, high schools and special needs schools designated as evacuation centers among a total of 33,638 in the country.

The schools were asked whether they could function and provide basic services during the first few days from the occurrence of a disaster until relief supplies started being delivered.

Only 49.5 percent of the schools said they have toilet contingencies, including portable and manhole toilets, that can be used during disasters.

In other areas, 53.4 percent schools had their own power-generating facilities or other means to secure power supplies. Some 72.0 percent of the schools had facilities to store relief supplies and 66.4 percent had the ability to secure drinking water in tanks or stored bottles.

Of 28,115 schools that can be used by elderly and disabled people during times of disaster, 61.9 percent have taken steps to make their facilities barrier-free, such as by installing ramps.

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