Ensuring sustainability of WASH facilities in schools

Updated - Wednesday 01 November 2017

From 25 to 29 September 2017, the fourth WASH & Learn! meeting was hosted in Uganda by EMESCO. Programme managers from the six local partner organisations participated together with Hester Foppen from Aqua for All, and Simavi’s programme officers Selma Hilgersom and Sandra Van Soelen. We reflect back with Simavi on this meeting.

Participants of the WASH & Learn meeting

“The main objective of the meeting was for participants to exchange experiences on five different learning themes: Cost Recovery Planning, Risk Assessment, Menstrual Hygiene Management, School Health Clubs, and Water as a Business. The meeting consisted of both plenary and group sessions, allowing all participants to have the chance to share their experiences and learn from each other.

Using Various Tools

One of the major discussions was focused on ensuring sustainability of the WASH & Learn! programme: how can the WASH facilities that will be constructed within the programme function for at least 15 years upon completion? All partners are using Cost Recovery Planning tools to enable selected schools to explore income generating activities in order to have adequate resources to operate and maintain their WASH facilities. In the meantime, it is also very important to involve the school management as well as the Parent-Teacher Association and local government authorities, reinforcing the sense of ownership within schools and community.

Our partners are also using Risk Assessment tools to help schools identify potential risks surrounding the WASH facilities and search for mitigation measures needed. Simavi is glad to learn that our partners are trying out these two tools, applying the FIETS (Financial, Institutional, Environmental, Technical, and Social) sustainability framework.

Another interesting discussion was about Water as a Business, in terms of its definition and the comparison with the traditional community based management model. During the workshop, we used the Public-Private Partnership business model canvas to analyse the business case behind pilot projects within the WASH & Learn! programme. This method was highly valued by our partners as it provided a new perspective to understand whether new approaches were sustainable.

Field Visit

Crops grown by Kyabasija Primary School

Outside of the meeting room, during the field visit, we saw a great example of how Kyabasija Primary School successfully used the Cost Recovery Planning tool. In order to raise enough capital to run and maintain the new WASH facilities, the school conducted agricultural activities, planting a variety of crops such as bananas, Irish potatoes, and cabbages. The produce is sold and generates new income for the school which could be used to purchase additional ceramic filters, allowing the students and teachers in the school to enjoy clean drinking water.

“As a school we promise and pledge to sustain what has been achieved because a lot of resources have been used to see this happen. The Operation and Maintenance of WASH facilities is no question, because we already plan for income generation”. – Musoke Jackson, Head Teacher, Kyabasija Primary School

In addition, we were also excited to see the newly constructed latrine block for girls in use. Commissioned by Simavi, District Education Office, and Aqua for All, EMESCO constructed this 30,000 litre Rainwater Harvesting Tank and latrine block for girls’ use. Furthermore, the School Health Club was formed to raise awareness on water, sanitation and hygiene issues in the school.

“There will be no transfers of teachers next year in Kyabasija Primary School to make sure they can fully commit to this project. Furthermore, the Kakumiro District is reserving a small budget to support the activities within this budget; to organise an exchange visit for other schools to see the success in Kyabasaija Primary School”. – Mary Kyofuna, District Education Officer

In conclusion, we were very glad to see that the community has been benefiting from the WASH programmes and has been empowered to improve awareness on WASH issues as well as engage with all stakeholders. We could also see that all programme partners are aware of their strengths and are able to identify what they want to learn from each other. In the coming months, Simavi will continue working with the partners and help them achieve their learning objectives to bring more impact to the community.”

More information on the WASH and Learn! programme can be found on the Simavi website.