Uganda - Scaling up School Sanitation Programmes at the national level

Updated - Monday 22 August 2016

Snel, Marielle and Rugomoya, Albert (2004)

The UNICEF School and Community Hygiene and Water Programme (SCHWP) covered 105,040 children, and was able to apply lessons learnt from the WES programme. Having inherited schools with an estimated pupil:cubicle ratio of 700:1 they reduced it in their 235 schools to 86:1. 97.2% of the schools were provided with latrines with concrete slabs, making maintenance much easier; 99.6% of them had separate latrines constructed for girls and 17% had washing rooms for the girls; 85% of the schools have had safe water installed; 60% have had handwashing facilities built next to the latrines. A study has revealed a high level of knowledge of sanitation issues among the pupils.

This summary includes points on the overall project that are not only relevant for schools. The main conclusion is that government has a dilemma, in that its performance is often judged in terms of how much infrastructure has been put in place. Therefore latrine construction and provision take priority. A balance has to be struck between what is judged as performance and what is actual performance. This remains a challenge to planners of sanitation interventions.

The list of what is still needed is a long one. The most important task at central level is to establish a monitoring and evaluation system to inform decision-makers. They need to know whether the enormous amount of hardware installed in the last ten years is kept in a functioning condition, and act accordingly; whether the hygiene awareness created in the schools is beginning to translate into changed behaviour, starting with handwashing; whether it then starts increasingly to influence home-based behaviour and that of pupils’ families. Decision-makers also need to be aware of the continuing need for funding, when the big donors leave.

At the community level, sanitation needs a much higher priority and interest has to be raised among community members. There needs to be fair and transparent distribution of facilities.

At school level, the needs are to give greater priority to sanitation in terms of: the allocation of school funds and attention; hygiene habits and life skills; the building of better links with the local community and giving attention to their sanitation needs; the need to find the money to continue building latrines; and assigning them fairly between boys and girls.

The schools and communities need to work together more to remedy sanitation problems and ensure that children acquire life skills and better habits. Private contractors need closer control to prevent shoddy workmanship, and the community could take on the role of supervising the building of the facilities. This would ensure that they are not cheated and would build their commitment to the project. It would also contribute to sustainability and behavioural change.

The schools could take on the child-to-child approach in ensuring capacity building among the pupils. In this way the children, under the guidance of their teachers, can exchange ideas and suggestions, make the decisions and take the initiative in developing and maintaining a better sanitation standard. This builds enthusiasm and commitment among the students.

Projects need to stay longer to ensure that the required capacity has been built and that the school and the community can manage on their own from there on. The implementers should leave only after they are sure that the technology used is not too complex for the community or school.

There have been significant achievements in terms of latrine construction, handwashing facilities and behaviour change. The challenge remains to prioritise behaviour change because once this is in place other initiatives will also be sustainable.

In preferring behaviour change as the key element to sustainability of sanitation interventions, the success of controlling the AIDS pandemic can be referred to as a model. Emphasis was on behaviour change and the infection rate dropped from 20% to 6% in the past years.

The case study was abstracted from: Snel, M. (2004), "THE WORTH OF SCHOOL SANITATION AND HYGIENE EDUCATION (SSHE)", IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, Delft, the Netherlands

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