Developing countries may lift themselves out of poverty if safe drinking water is provided in schools, a new study suggests.
Research showed that schools providing clean water report fewer children off sick.
Researchers looked at absentee rates in eight schools in Cambodia - half of which received treated drinking water, and half of which did not. The 26-week study period spanned two terms - one in the country's dry season and one in the wet season. The absentee records of 3520 children were taken into account.
They found that during the dry period, children without access to clean water were about 2.5 times more likely to be absent from school than children where water was provided.
Prof Paul Hunter from UEA's Norwich Medical School said that they focused their intervention on local communities having poor access to clean drinking water and that each participating school was given a 20-litre bottle of clean drinking water per class each day.
They found lower absenteeism in the schools that received the free clean water - however this association was only seen in the dry season.
The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.