Girls at Ogwodo Primary School,Kenya cleaning latrines with traditional reed broomsLatrine cleaning can be a dirty job. Some schools cannot always afford proper tools for cleaning latrines. Children are reluctant to clean using short handled brooms made from reeds or tree branches.
Plight of school wash photo essay_swash+
Funding for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) inKenyan schools’ budget is a fraction of what is needed.Schools are forced to make choices between maintainingWASH improvements and other expenditures such asupkeep of classrooms.
School staff cite ‘lack of easy access to water’ as one of mainreasons for poor hygiene at school. Students at this school haveno water source on site.The school relies on students to bring a few litres each day tosupplement the school water supply.
One of the improvements made possible through the SWASH+ projectwas the construction of school boreholes, an on-site source of water.
When boreholes break, schools rely onunclean water from nearby rivers orstreams.
A water chlorination or other treatmentsolutions, such as WaterGuard, should beused to make collected water safe fordrinking. The SWASH+ project baselinedata collection revealed that no schoolstested positive for chlorine residual inschool stored drinking water.
Once water is gathered and ideally treated it can go to waste. Taps on water vessels frequently break and need repair. Due to limited government funding, parents are often called on to provide funds to repair or replace supplies. However,this can be a large burden for families in the area.
Toilet paper is a luxury and israrely provided due toinsufficient school WASHfunding. Schools are notallocated money specifically fortoilet paper or sanitary pads.If schools decide to providetoilet paper or sanitary padsthey must draw on fundsdesignated for competingneeds, such as test materials orbuilding infrastructure(McMahon, 2011).
Schools also need tobe budget for long-term maintenance forinfrastructure likelatrines. Over time,latrine doors break,iron roofs and sheetsseparating stalls rot,and latches do notclose. Dilapidatedlatrines put schoolchildren’s health andsafety at risk.
Additional funding forschool WASH will helpmaintain the quality ofschool latrines. Unwashed,leaking and smelly latrinesare less likely to be utilizedby students.Quality, not quantity oflatrines was found bySWASH+ to be veryimportant for student’suse of latrines at schools.
Students are typicallyresponsible for cleaning latrines. At Wagai PrimarySchool students have long handledbrooms to keep them a safe distance from contaminants.
Latrine cleaning can be adirty job. Some schoolscannot always afford propertools for cleaning latrines.Children are reluctant toclean using short handledbrooms made from reeds ortree branches.
Children in SWASH+ project schools weremade aware of proper sanitation and hygienepractices through teacher trainings andhealth clubs. There is a need to reinforcethese subjects through the school curriculum.In addition, schools face the challenge ofconsistently providing supplies like soap,WaterGuard and anal cleansing materials sostudents can practice what they learn.
Keeping an ample supply of items like soap,bleach, and sanitary pads is a challenge.These pads were stored in a cupboard atthe school and the packages were torn bymice.Even when schools have supplies theft andproper storage can present challenges.Rodent-safe containers and locks helpprevent product loss.
Schools throughout Kenya face a variety of challenges dueto lack of funding and limited allocation of funds for schoolWASH. Thanks in part to SWASH+ research and advocacy,the Ministry of Education has doubled funding for WASH inprimary schools in Kenya.Further increases are needed. In addition,monitoring progress in WASH provision willbe key for accountability and change inschool WASH.
ReferencesMcMahon, S., Caruso, B., Obure, A., Rheingans, R. ‘Anal cleansing practices and faecal contamination: a preliminary investigation of behaviours and conditions in schools in rural Nyanza Province, Kenya.’ (2011). Tropical Medicine and International Health. 16:12: 1536-1540.Photography by CARE/Brendan Bannon. Photo essay by Julie Straw; edited by Malaika Cheney-Coker.SWASH+ is a five-year applied research project to identify, develop, and test innovative approaches to school-based water, sanitation and hygiene in Nyanza Province, Kenya. The partners that form the SWASH+ consortium are CARE, Emory University, the Great Lakes University of Kisumu, the government of Kenya, and the former Kenya Water for Health Organisation (KWAHO), and Water.org. SWASH+ is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Water Challenge. For more information, visit www.swashplus.org.
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