UNHCR constructs school sanitation facilities to support host community in Kibondo
Adequate sanitation is a basic human right, and access to it is essential for attaining better health, education, nutrition, and other human development indices. As part of its commitment to supporting host communities, UNHCR, the refugee agency, is working to improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services in the refugee hosting region of Kigoma.
Some 1,578 pupils (786 boys and 792 girls) in Kibondo Primary School have benefited from the construction of two blocks of latrines. Due to an increased number of pupils enrolled in schools, the pupil to latrine ratio has become a major concern, increasing the risk of communicable diseases such as Urinary Tract Infection, diarrhoea, and cholera.
“Before the project, it was not unusual to see long queues of pupils outside the few existing latrines. We hope that this waiting time will now be reduced while at the same time protecting these children from infectious diseases,” said Mahoua Parums, UNHCR Representative in Tanzania. “We recognize that despite facing their own economic challenges, the communities here have always welcomed refugees. This support, among others, is part of our broader programme to match the host community’s hospitality with development investment,” she added.
Working with the Norwegian Refugee Council and other partners, the project has constructed 26 new latrine stances as there were only four prior to the project. New handwashing stations with running water have also been mounted in the ablution facilities to promote handwashing after using the toilet. There is also a special toilet to accommodate pupils with disabilities and a menstrual hygiene room that enables young girls to have a safe, private space while changing their sanitary materials.
“Previously, some pupils feared coming to school during menstruation days beacause there wasn’t enough water to ensure proper hygiene. Now we are happy because the situation has improved,”- Elizabeth Furaha, Grade 5 Pupil.
The project also led to the formation of a school hygiene club currently consisting of 30 pupils. The club equips students with hygiene management knowledge. Under the supervision of the environment teacher, the club members transmit this knowledge to other pupils to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases and improve sanitation. The overall objective is to encourage them to be agents of change for the whole community.
“This project will improve the learning environment for our pupils and enhance their performance and attendance. Shortage of WASH facilities was a threat to the pupils’ safety, dignity, and performance,” said Laurent Nazari Rugambwa - teacher. “Some had to go back home to use the toilets and often didn’t return to school. Others were regularly ill due to infectious diseases. We can’t thank you enough for the support,”- he concluded.
In collaboration with the local authorities and partners, UNHCR will continue to improve the welfare of host communities in Kigoma, where most of the 247,000 refugees living in Tanzania are hosted.