Upgrading school sanitation & hygiene

Upgrading school sanitation & hygiene

SNV in close coordination with West Gonja District Assembly and district education office has supported to construct a 14 unit school toilet facility which is user friendly, gender sensitive and disablility friendly.

"Our kids were using the nearby bushes for sanitation purposes during school hours and sometimes kids entered in the classroom with shit on their feet and body. I was worried seeing those situations and school did not have resources to construct the sanitation facilitie," Ms Andreana, a health teacher at Jakpa D/A Primary School says when asked about the previous sanitation situation at the school

Jakpa Primary  is located right in the center of Damango town, the capital of West Gonja district, and is home to 358 students (190 male, 168 female). A year ago, the school had one dilapidated toilet which was not in use at all. SNV in close coordination with West Gonja District Assembly and district education office has supported to construct a 14 unit school toilet facility which is user friendly, gender sensitive and disablility friendly.

School Headmistress Ms. Diana, said that out of 14 units, six units were for male students, two units for teachers, and six units for female students, including a changing room for girls during menstruation. In addition to this, rain water harvesting technology was installed to collect water during the rainy season and to demonstrate that rain water harvesting is one of the potential solutions of water scarcity.

"We have enough toilets now and I don’t think girls in my school will dropout from the school even during their menstrual periods as we have separate changing room and indoor pad disposal site," Ms. Diana added.

These responses from students and teachers are enough to highlight the difference between the past and present scenarios in terms of WASH services at schools in Ghana. The Government of Ghana has been delivering WASH in Schools (WinS) as part of traditional water, sanitation and hygiene promotion by the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service, who are responsible for the education sector. Around 56% of schools (Creche/Nursery, Kindergarten, Primary Schools and Junior High Schools) have toilet facilities and 49% have access to water on site. However these figures do not indicate the condition and use of the facilities (2011/2012 School Year EMIS report).

Knowing the low WASH coverage in schools, SNV with support from Japan Social Development Fund/World Bank has been working closely with Districts Assemblies to improve the WASH services in 46 selected schools from Saboba district, West Gonja district, East Gonja district and Tamale metropolis, benefiting more than 11,000 school students. All the toilet construction and rehabilitation work at 46 schools has now been completed and the handover process to school management committees is ongoing.

Toilet construction is an easy job, but behavioural change amongst students to ensure hygienic use of toilets by all is challenging. This issue is already noticed by school teachers and student health club members.

"Still some of our school colleagues run to the bushes for peeing and defecation because the toilets are new and look very nice and they hesitate to use them,  although we have enough toilets on our school premises. I am trying to convince them to use the toilets and I hope I can make them to use it properly," Somda Pelezie, also in grade 4, president of the school health club said.

"I am very happy to be a member of the health club as I have been learning the benefits of use of toilets, handwashing, safe drinking water in school and I have participated in cleaning activities together with my friends. I want to learn more about the importance and benefits of safe drinking water, toilets use and hygiene issues and transfer this knowledge to my colleagues and my community," Kewaura Saiza, grade 4 students and health club vice-president said.

At the beginning the project was mainly focused on construction and improvement of toilets, handwashing facilities, waste collection sites and formation and orientation of school health clubs. The project will now work to develop the capacity of school teachers, health club members, and school management committees for operation and maintenance of toilets facilities through training, coaching and regular follow up with schools. It will also work with the school teachers and school health clubs on behaviour change of students towards hygienic use of the toilets and good hygiene practices.