One of the major causes of illness due to poor hygiene and sanitation is not washing your hands after going to the toilet. The simple act of washing hands with soap and water can reduce diarrhoea by over 40%. This seemed like a great place to start when looking at how small infrastructure improvements can increase Hygiene and Sanitation practices at the primary schools.
Since the schools have only one water tap each it seemed like we needed to have more accessible points for students to wash their hands. In the great wealth of Water Sanitation Hygiene information out there, I came across Tippy Taps, -low cost simple to build hand washing stations. Basically it’s a jug on a string that when you push on a foot pedal it tips forward and water comes out slowly and then tips back when you release the pedal. Genius!
So with the YCI volunteers we decided to build a few and see how they would go at the schools. Since the toilet block is set a little away from the classrooms we decided to build the tippy taps nearer to the toilets.
Of course as soon as we show up we get circled by a hundred children, not the easiest environment to work in.
but we had some students step up and really help us in our Tippy Tap building endeavour. There had to be some improvising to get them functional and in the end they worked well.
A couple hours later we had built two tippy taps at the toilets (as a trial) and since there were so many children around they were all watching what we were doing ,and then used the tippy taps when we were done. We provided soap by attaching it to a rope at the tippy taps.
We built the Tippy taps on a Friday and we came back on the Monday to make sure they were still there and functional.
Our tippy taps were both destroyed over the weekend. Very disheartening. The wood, string, jugs and soap and gravel for the soak pit was all taken. This was a wake up call. In this community the cheap resources that we used to make the tippy taps, are considered valuable to members of this community.
We had to come up with another solution. Two of the schools are in a compound that gets locked at the end of the day. It’s not ideal to build Tippy Taps in the school since they are not close to the toilet blocks, but at least this way they would be more protected from vandalism. So we built two more Tippy taps inside the compound.
We came back the next day and the Tippy taps were there, but they were empty – (not being used) and the soap was gone.
So what seemed like an easy option to address a big issue of the lack of hand washing… is not so easy. The school really needs proper infrastructure to address this issue. There are too many students coming from poor households to be able to leave soap out and not have it taken, it’s a commodity
There are many infrastructure improvements needed on the schools current toilets and I have begun to work with a contractor to try make this happen. However, costs are the limiting factor. The improvements I am trying to make are things like doors on the current toilets, new slabs ( floors ) on 8 toilets not being used, soak pits for the water taps (where large pools of water form), and permanent hand washing stations. I am also looking to fund-raise for one of the schools to have their water bill paid ($60/month) as their water is currently shut off. I am trying to raise from $1200 – $5000 ( the more money the more improvements can be done) to do improvements at the three schools.
Youth Challenge International has setup a fundraising page to help address the costs of these improvements. If you would like to donate to do improvements at the school please go here. ( you can get a tax deductible receipt for your donation but please note 10% of your donation is kept for administration costs)
If you would like to donate and do not need a tax receipt you can contact me directly at Jamie.firstname.lastname@example.org to donate and 100% of your donation will go straight to improvements at the school.
Any amount of money will be a big help to get some improvements done at these schools. Thanks for any support you can give!