We build new toilets at each of our school projects. They are not fancy by western standards: they are Ventilated Deep Pit Latrines which are divided into cubicles, providig essential privacy – and they are appropriate structures for these rural locations. Each latrine is also provided with basic hand washing facilities. These facilities are not an optional extra – we make sure that they are costed into every project, so that all children benefit from the improved health that comes with improved sanitation.
Why do we do this? Because many schools have only old or broken latrines on site, so the children end up using the surrounding bushes as a toilet instead. Not only does this make the school environment unhygienic but the children are susceptible to parasite infection, such as hookworm, as well as diseases that thrive in areas with poor sanitation. Young girls, in particular, can feel vulnerable to harassment in these situations and, in the past, many have tended to leave school once they reach puberty.
It costs very little to construct a new latrine at a school, and it is worth every penny. Our impact studies have shown that the health of the children improves, their self-esteem and self-confidence improves and their academic achievement improves. Win, win all round!