In 2018 H2O for Life funded a number of women led organizations working in East Africa to promote safe water access and better sanitation services in schools. Action for Women and Awakening in Rural Environment (AWARE) Uganda was one of the beneficiaries of this funding. These women carried out a comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WASH) program at Police Primary School located in the eastern part of Kaabong Town Council in the Karamoja Region, Uganda. Here is their completion report:
With lack of sufficient latrine facilities, Police Primary School, the Kaabong Town Council and the local community had a big challenge with sanitation and hygiene. Open defecation was a common practice among school children which led to the outbreak of diseases such as dysentery, diarrhea, cholera and Typhoid. The challenge for the girl child stretched beyond the lack of a latrine to the lack of an adequate menstrual hygiene management facility. It is no wonder that 50% of adolescent girls in this school drop out after they begin menstruating. Those who remain in school are absent an average of four days a month according to the Kaabong District Health Inspector. A girl absent from school for four days of every month loses the equivalent of two weeks of learning, which translates into over 100 hours of missed class time each term. The girls in this school struggle with their primary exams and often end up being married off at a tender age.
AWARE Uganda constructed 8 latrine stances (4 for girls and 4 for boys), 2 washing bays for girls and six hand washing stations. This construction was done by 5 AWARE trained women masons along other community artisans. In so doing, the capacity of the trained women to construct WASH facilities was further enhanced. Alongside the construction, the organization conducted WASH education to the students and teachers of the school.
The construction was preceded by a needs assessment that was conducted jointly with the parents and teachers association together with AWARE which informed the proposal. Upon receipt of funds, AWARE Uganda and the parents and teachers’ association conducted two meetings to agree on the implementation procedures and the contribution needed from the parents to realize the proposed activities. Parents made contributions in the form of local materials such as sand, gravel, water and local labor. These contributions made it possible for AWARE to construct 8 latrines, 2 washing bays and 6 hand washing stations.
Alongside the construction was the WASH education. With the background knowledge of the importance of behavior change in accepting and utilizing sanitation and hygiene facilities, the project offered WASH education to the pupils every day during construction activities. Topics of education ranged from the importance of proper latrine use, importance of hand washing after using the latrine, menstruation and menstrual hygiene management and the importance of keeping the latrines clean at all times.
For proper operation and maintenance of the established WASH facilities, an operation and maintenance committee was formed which was merged with the school health club. The head teacher, 2 science teachers and 1 senior woman teacher were specifically assigned the role of taking the lead in overseeing the operation and maintenance (O&M) committee. The operation and maintenance committee will have the overall mandate to continue with sanitation awareness in the school and giving health education talks about menstruation and menstrual hygiene management.
To ensure proper operation and maintenance of the new facilities, AWARE facilitated a meeting between the school and the parents during which the parents agreed to contribute Ugx 1000/= per term which will be used entirely for purchasing cleaning reagents and equipment for the facilities.
- Girls have a safe, hygienic space for menstrual hygiene management which will decrease absences/drop outs
- Students have not been affected by the ongoing dysentery and hepatitis E epidemic. This is attributed to the WASH education which has led to improved hygiene behavior
- Girls’ registration has increased
- No more waiting in line for the latrines