WAKISO — Scarcity of toilets and sanitation facilities in schools is a threat to education to millions of children in developing countries, Dr. Fulgensio Jjuuko, the Executive Director of the Community Integrated Development Initiative (CIDI) has said, explaining that the impact is particularly higher for the girl child.
Dr. Jjuuko was speaking at Mugongo Primary School in Kyengera Town Council, Wakiso District where his organization handed over a multiuser hand-washing facility, a waterborne toilet, a modern kitchen building and an incinerator for burning waste.
He said these especially the waterborne toilet and a multi-user hand-washing facility installed in the school—a Church of Uganda founded and government aided— would improve adequate sanitation and WASH to avoid the school becoming a breeding ground for diseases that kill children and threaten their ability to study or grow.
“We started by taking them (pupils) through a series of attitudinal changes with the spirit of promoting water hygiene and sanitation starting from personal hygiene,” Dr. Jjuuko, whose organization is set to celebrate 25 years of service said, adding that, CIDI has also supported the school to make some investments, such as an incinerator.
He explained that an incinerator is important in the sense that garbage which comes out of the school, like menstrual hygiene, disposable pads, and also other materials can be put into the incinerator and burnt so the environment can remain clean.
“We have put up a waterborne toilet with nine stances for boys, and also nine stances for girls and a stance for people living with disabilities. It is the first one of its kind in the school and it has taken sanitation at another level. Even the children were there to testify to this.”
Previously, the school was using polluted pit latrines, which were full and when they get filled, they would close it and dig another one.
By the time CIDI came to construct a modern waterborne toilet, there were so many underlying pit latrines in the same location—meaning the school was starting to get shorter of land to make more pit latrines in the same location.
Dr. Jjuuko said the waterborne toilet was very handy.
On the hand washing facility, Dr. Jjuuko said in this era, where “we are getting so many diseases such as COVID-19 and Ebola that are putting the world on tenterhooks, children must keep clean and that one can be possible only when they have got hand washing facilities. So we have been able to put them up for the children.”
Ms. Oliver Kazinda Wasswa, the Headteacher at Mugongo Primary School says that, “When there is lack of proper sanitation and WASH facilities in schools, such as a toilet which separates boys and girls, it deteriorates students’ spirit to study”.
Good hand hygiene is proven to be one of the most important measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including bacterial, diarrhea and respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19.
She said the support from CIDI is playing a vital role in the education sectors COVID-19 and Ebola response to mitigate the transmission of the pandemic and to keep schools as safe as possible.
The headteacher adds that before CIDI built toilets and hand-washing facilities at their school, health challenges have been common, with cases including diarrhea which affected their performance.
Many children were forced to stay home to avoid contracting the disease.
“There were a few pit latrine stances which were shared by more than 900 pupils,” she said, noting that, it has been a major setback for “our school”.
She further adds that the hand-washing facilities installed at the school would be helpful during the ongoing response to Ebola among other diseases.
“Apart from keeping children in school, we will use these facilities to mitigate COVID-19 and Ebola”, Ms. Oliver continues. “We will use them to clean our hands and the school hygiene will really improve. The toilets are not only constructed as separate, but they are also waterborne.”
Not many people would immediately think about toilets when it comes to things which hinder progress for children’s growth.
However, experience has shown that the availability of toilets can not only help children avoid the risk of getting sick due to poor hygiene and subsequently missing school, but also encourage children, especially girls, to stay in school and chase their dreams.
Kyengera Town Council Mayor who presided the launch commended CIDI for the donations. He requested CIDI to extend the same services to other schools in the town council.
Hasifah Kisanye, primary five pupil said “The hand washing facilities will help us to stop the spread of Ebola and Coronaviruses. When we go outside and touch dirty surfaces, we are able to wash our hands with clean water and soap and kill all the germs.”