In the spring Kaloko News we introduced our new School Sanitation Programme. It’s now underway and working to reduce the impact that poor sanitation can have on education and health, particularly for girls.
Since the end of the rains in April the team in Zambia has been working with Bwembelelo School to implement the school sanitation project. This has involved building toilets and providing handwashing facilities, but also engaging the teachers, parents and students in the project. This ‘community mobilisation’ phase is particularly important as, even if the idea originated from the school and the senior staff are fully behind the idea, the project will only reach its potential benefit if all the ‘stakeholders’ are interested and engaged.
There are 444 pupils at Bwembelelo, with 105 girls aged above 12, and average attendance is noticeably lower for girls. It is difficult to find full information about the causes of absenteeism but a significant percentage of girls reportedly do not attend due to diarrhoeal diseases and also a lack of sanitary wear during their monthly period.
The Kaloko team interviewed two of the girls. Maggie, at 16 is one of the older children in the school, a peer-leader and influencer who has been attending for nine years. She explained that she feels uncomfortable studying without changing pads and so she regularly misses four days of school a month. Mercy is 13, was orphaned at a young age, and has grown up with her widowed grandmother. Earlier this year she started experiencing monthly periods and feels extremely embarrassed being at school for three days of the month so stays at home.
Both girls are optimistic about the difference that this programme is going to make to their attendance and hope that their exam results will benefit.
Generous additional donations from supporters since the last Kaloko News, including Judith Darmady and Aymer Arts, have allowed us to expand the programme further and we are looking forward to extending the project to another school in 2018.
In July, sixth form students from Varndean College in Brighton were involved in the project, helping with latrine construction, the distribution of sanitation materials and peer to peer learning with pupils at the school.