In partnership with the World Toilet Organization (WTO) we want to improve sanitation conditions for rural school children in China.
According to UNICEF only 64% of the population in China have improved toilets. An improved, hygienic latrine is one that adopts reinforced concrete structure, separates human excreta from human contact, and ensures that the excreta do not pollute the environment. Provision of hygienic toilets effectively eliminates breeding ground forparasites and vector-borne diseases such as mosquitoes.
A 2007 national survey by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that only 24% of schools had improved toilets. Most toilets in Chinese rural schools face the same challenges, as proper hygiene in schools is not considered a priority for most communities and municipalities. These old school toilets typically are not connected to a flushing system, most are without handwashing facilities, and the excreta disposal are normally located right behind the toilet building, uncovered and exposed to the environment (Figure 1). There is no management system in place to keep facilities clean every day, and children do not practice proper hygiene, all of which can lead to both health and environmental problems. In other words, there is a need for sustainable Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH).
Ensuring water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH ) in schools has shown to increase attendance and educational performance in schools. Adequate WASH conditions also improves the general well-being of children, teachers, and their families. However, ensuring sustainable WASH facilities in schools remains a challenge not only in developing but in developed countries as well. WTO’s goals are:
1) Building the Hardware
WTO started this project in August 2015 with two pilots in Zhang Zhung Primary School and Zhong He Middle School, both located in Louyang, Henan Province.
We have completed the installation of two modern flushing toilet systems, toilet buildings with privacy walls and doors, bright and colorful tiles, large windows for ventilation and natural light, sensor lights activated by sound, and handwashing facilities (Figure 2). In addition, both school toilets have been equipped with two disabled toilets each for both male and female.
2) Delivering the Software
WTO is looking to develop the content and simple tools for students and teachers to encourage daily cleaning of school grounds and toilets as well as light regular maintenance and small repair tasks that can be accomplished by the school community without the involvement of technical experts.
The aim is to integrate regular cleaning into the daily school activities. These interventions address, often, poor cleaning and maintenance practices in schools, ensure that schools improve their management, and keep school grounds and facilities clean and usable. This is the first step towards a healthy learning environment and behavior change.
So far, the two completed pilot projects in Henan have benefited around 370 school children and teachers. Plans are underway for another two school projects in the next few months which will reach out to around 1,000 school children.
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