Working with WTO to transform the lives of school children through improvement of sanitation conditions in China’s rural schools
According to UNICEF only 64% of the population in China have improved toilets. An improved, hygienic latrine is one that adopts reinforced concrete structure, separate human excreta from human contact and ensures that the excreta do not pollute the environment. Provision of hygienic toilets effectively eliminates breeding ground for parasites and vector-borne diseases such as mosquitoes.
A 2007 national survey by Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention showed that only 24% of schools had improved toilets. Most toilets in rural schools of China face the same challenges as WASH 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 facility 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 is in place to keep facilities clean every day, and children do not practise proper hygiene, all of which can lead to both health and environmental problems. In other words, there is a need not just for WASH, but for sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
Ensuring water, sanitation, and hgiene (WASH ) in schools has shown to increase attendance and educational performance in schools. Adequate WASH conditions also improve 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:
G1: Promote health and hygiene effectively that will bring about behavioural and attitudinal change.
G2: Protect the environment and natural resources
G3: Technically appropriate including operations and maintenance
- I) Building the Hardware
WTO has started this project with two pilots in Zhang Zhung Primary School and Zhong He Middle School, both located in Louyang, Henan Province at the start of August 2015.
To date 2015, we have completed the installation of two modern flushing toilet system, toilet building with privacy walls and doors, bright and colourful tiles, large windows for ventilation and natural light, sensor lights activated by sound and handwashing facility (Figure 2). In addition, both school toilets have been equipped with two disable toilets each for both male and female.
- II) Delivering the Software
Besides constructing hygienic toilets, sanitation and hygiene education will be provided together with the school so that the awareness of personal hygiene and environmental protection is increased among students. Students can further influence their parents and making more people aware of the importance of personal hygiene and environmental protection.
In parallel and most crucial, this project aim to promote positive behaviours around sanitation and hygiene habits among children and school teachers. WTO through a partnership with Wei Ai Er Shen (WAES), a student group from Wuhan University, WTO delivered health and hygiene promotion to students of Tai Ping Primary School of Badong County
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 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 behaviour change.
So far, the two completed pilot projects at 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.
Interested to find out ways of collaboration on our China project? Please email [email protected]