Imagine a school in the rural area without toilet facilities for teachers and learners. This undoubtedly puts children at risk of contracting conditions like diarrhoea and various illnesses, which in turn hinders their ability to fully experience life's opportunities.
This situation is exemplified by Michura Primary School in Kisumu City County, in Kenya. With an approximate learner population of 182 (98 boys and 84 girls), Michura Primary School has for a long time been relying on two toilets for leaners while teachers used the nearby community toilet.
“Our boys and girls have been sharing these two toilets, resulting in long queues and a surge in hygiene-related illnesses such as diarrhoea and cholera. This, in turn, has had a negative effect on learners' academic performance, as many were too sick to attend school,” the school headteacher recalls.
Toilets play a vital role in preventing diseases in children by offering a safe and hygienic means for disposing of human waste. Insufficient sanitation and absence of clean toilet facilities can lead to the proliferation of illnesses, especially among children who are at a higher risk due to their developing immune systems.
Worldwide, at least 892 million people continue to practice open defecation, which results in the widespread spread of diseases marked by diarrhoea. According to the United Nations, nearly 1,000 children lose their lives every day due to diarrhoeal diseases caused by insufficient sanitation and contaminated water sources.
To address this incessant problem, World Vision partnered with the local community and the Michura Primary school management to construct four additional modern toilets for the learners. Additionally, World Vision provided water tanks for the school, enabling the learners to clean their hands after using the facilities. With financial support of Ksh 641,329.48 from World Vision USA, the organisation managed to deliver the projects by mid-June, 2023.
Clinton, a sixth-grade learner, expresses his gratitude for the new toilets. He remembers the uncomfortable experience of waiting in long lines for the old toilets and how their poor conditions affected everyone due to high usage.
“The situation here at the school was not good. It was embarrassing to make long queues in order to use the toilets. Due to high number of pupils using the same toilets, its condition was deplorable,” he points out.
Young girls like Emily, a grade six leaner, were the most affected as they were confronted with hygiene challenges. Emily
describes the newly constructed toilets as a “life saver” for her and other girls in her school.
“It was very uncomfortable for us to share toilets with the boys. We had to wait until they had gone so that we can now use the toilets. This affected our academic performance because we wasted a lot of time waiting for others.” she narrates.
Today, Michura Primary school has successfully eradicated diseases associated with poor sanitation and hygiene, thanks to World Vision’s intervention. Teachers have since noted a significant improvement in the academic performance of their learners.
Boys and girls in the school are happier and healthier, and more motivated to attend their school activities. According to the School’s management, the overall learning environment has transformed, resulting in increased enrolment rates.
By Peter Mwaura, Communications Specialist, World Vision Kenya.