Working with SHUMAS to build schools and health centres
How much does it cost?
Inevitably, building costs vary a little from project to project because of the nature of the local terrain, the ability of the community to make significant contributions, and the cost of transporting materials to the site, however the average cost of a primary school project is currently £25,000 and a secondary school project is approximately £35,000
We aim to provide at least three new classrooms and a school office at each of schools we support. These rooms have concrete floors, plastered walls, window grills and doors to keep out the worst of the weather whilst keeping the rooms well aired, and a new roof. The classrooms are easy to keep clean and help to improve the health of the children.
Construction has to work around the rainy season but, with climate change, this can be unpredictable. Rain has a devastating effect on the dirt roads and makes transportation of materials very difficult. It is hardly surprising that village schools have been so neglected for so long: good transport infrastructure does not exist in many parts of Cameroon and gaining access to remote communities is very difficult. To overcome these difficulties, BSFA and SHUMAS have modified the school building budgets recently to incorporate additional items so that the project comes as a ‘package’ as described below.
Where possible, each school building project includes the following:
1. A block of three new weatherproof classrooms and a school office, built to a very high specification in terms of durability and hygiene and complete with blackboards.
2. Sufficient school benches to accommodate up to 150 children.
3. A teacher’s table and chair for each classroom.
4. A new ventilated deep pit latrine with discreet cubicles for boys, girls and teachers which ensure privacy is respected. At secondary schools we aim to provide discrete blocks of latrines for boys and girls. All latrine blocks now have hand-washing facilities attached and some have a small changing room.
5. A supply of clean drinking water, if possible. Cholera and Typhoid are commonplace amongst the children, who often have to carry water to school from nearby streams. We ask SHUMAS to undertake feasibility studies at each school to establish the most effective method of getting safe drinking water to the school. Costs vary hugely, of course, depending on the topography and the state of the water catchment, but sometimes all that is needed is some additional pipeline and the construction of a standing tap in the school yard – and this can sometimes be incorporated in the ‘package’. We often fund more expensive water projects, such as boreholes with pumps, by combining some of our smaller donations – not a penny raised on our behalf is ever wasted.
6. Tools and seeds for a school farm are usually included in a package, if land at the school is available. This allows for school children to learn organic farming skills as part of their curriculum and also generates income, allowing the school to purchase extra teaching/learning materials. In 2016 the Cameroon Government recognised the importance of school farms at SHUMAS’ schools, and has recommended that, where possible, this facility is built in to all schools across the nation.
7. The funding for a village Women’s Farming Group (where appropriate) to be included in SHUMAS’ micro-credit scheme. This allows the women to invest more into their farms and receive training from SHUMAS in organic farming techniques and in women’s health issues. In return, the women undertake to keep the school building clean and in good repair and help with the school farm.
8. Monitoring of progress at the school for at least two years after the building is completed.
In addition, a small amount is added for contingencies. This covers any unforeseen expenses arising from fluctuations in exchange rates, problems with transportation of materials etc., which can otherwise be financially crippling for SHUMAS. We have agreed that any savings SHUMAS makes from this fund can be used to help maintain their vehicles which are so essential to their work.
In the near future, we are hoping to be able to offer an additional facility at our schools – solar powered electricity. This will make the world of difference to both students and staff and will enable the use of computers as well as providing light in the evenings.
Costs for the health centre projects also vary but, in general, refurbishment costs approximately £7,500 and the cost of new basic equipment is around £4,000
Water projects are very variable, depending on the nature of the terrain and how much pipeline is required, but on average the cost of a community gravity-feed water project would be £15,000
Wells cost approximately £5,500 and boreholes cost £8,860