Author: Department of Community Development
Availability of safe drinking water and sanitary means of waste disposal is a basic right and necessity for good health. Unsafe drinking water can be a significant carrier of diseases such as trachoma, cholera, typhoid and schistosomiasis. Drinking water can also be tainted with chemical, physical and radiological contaminants with harmful effects on human health. Inadequate disposal of human excreta and personal hygiene is associated with a range of diseases including diarrhoeal diseases. A study of the availability and state of water and sanitary conditions may, therefore, explain variations in the prevalence of such diseases across geographic locations.
Purpose / Objective
The water and sanitation baseline survey was conducted by the Department of Community Development in collaboration with other stakeholders in order to collect information on the existence and/or situation of available water/latrine facilities, waste disposal facilities, etc. in lower basic schools, health and outreach centres and day care/early childhood learning centres.
The objectives of the survey are:
- To assess the situation of water and sanitary (WATSAN) facilities in - Lower Basic (Primary), Early Childhood Centres and Health Centres
- To provide a database for schools - Water and Sanitary (WATSAN) facilities country-wide to enhance management, planning and decision-making; and,
- To disseminate baseline information for coordination, collaboration and effective partnership
Out of the 900 institutions that were to be covered in this study, 835 institutions were covered, of which 553 were lower basic schools, 122 out-reach centres, 33 nursery schools and 29 day care centres.
Key Findings and Conclusions
Regarding the availability of water and sanitary facilities in educational and health institutions: The data shows that nursery schools, day-care centres and out-reach centres are the most disadvantaged. Fifty-five percent of the nursery schools did not have water facilities within their premises and about 49 percent of the day-care centres are without the facility as well as about 65 percent of out-reach centres. In contrast, water and sanitary conditions are better in lower basic, basic cycle (upper and lower combined) schools, health centres and hospitals.
In terms of regional disparities in water and sanitary conditions:
The data shows that water and sanitary conditions are better in Banjul and Kanifing than in the rest of the divisions. The data shows that about 94 and 84 percent of lower basic schools in Banjul and Kanifing respectively, have pipe-borne water while 100 percent and 59 percent of the lower basic schools in Banjul and Kanifing have access to safe sanitary means of excreta disposal. Differences in the quality of water and sanitary facilities among predominantly rural divisions are not much. The availability of water and sanitary facilities across these divisions for Lower Basic schools range from 95.2 percent to 60.7 per cent for water and 100 percent to 57.6 percent for sanitary facilities. As has been observed at national level, within divisions, small educational and health institutions tend to be disadvantaged in terms of the availability of better water and sanitary facilities than larger institutions.
Regarding agencies providing support for the construction of water and sanitary facilities:
The Gambia Government, with donor support through the Department of State for Education, provides most of the water facilities in Lower Basic Schools, accounting for 47.0 percent, followed by UNICEF 9.2 percent. The data also shows that UNICEF and EDF are the major providers of water facilities to Basic Cycle Schools, each providing 17.2 percent of the institutions. For the Nursery Schools, the Gambia government is the major provider of water facilities, providing about 51 percent of the institutions followed by other agencies (compound owners, Save the Children among others) 21.2 percent. Across all categories of water facilities, with the exception of boreholes, CARITAS is the main provider of water to nursery schools. The Gambia Government, with donor support through the Department of State for Education, is also the major provider of latrine facility to Lower Basic schools (21 percent) followed by UNICEF (6.7 percent). For the Basic Cycles, the Gambia Government is the major provider of latrine facil
ities (34.5 percent) followed by UNICEF (21 percent). As for the Day Care Centres, Gambia government is the major provider of the latrine facilities, providing such facilities to 34.5 percent of these institutions followed by UNICEF/DCD 20.7 percent.
Regarding the adequacy of latrines in schools:
Of the 498 lower basic schools in which the number of cubicles was administered, 59.4 percent were within the recommended range of 1-50 pupils per cubicle and this norm is more common in LRD at 80.5 percent, followed by CRD and NBD 76.7 and 71.9 percent, respectively. Whilst for the basic cycle schools, 65.4 percent of them have facilities within the recommended range of 1-50 pupils per cubicle and is highest in URD 77.8 percent, followed by CRD and NBD at 75.0 and 57.1 percent, respectively.
Regarding the availability of a maintenance budget in institutions:
The data show that all the hospitals have maintenance budgets, with health centres reporting 54 percent as having such a budget, ranking second in terms of institutions having such a budget. For the remaining institutions, less than a quarter (25 percent) reported having maintenance budget. The data further shows that most of the institutions with maintenance budgets were in Banjul (63.6 percent) followed by KMC (41.4 percent). Institutions with no maintenance budget are more prevalent in LRD, with such institutions constituting about 16 percent, followed by CRD with about 21 percent of such institutions.
Regarding the upkeep of the water facilities:
56.3 percent of the institutions reported that there was no stagnant water around their facilities and 61.2 percent reported that their facilities were clean. As for latrine facilities, 73 percent of the institutions reported that stagnant water does not exist around the facilities and 58.8 percent of the institutions reported the non-existence of faeces around the facilities.
Regarding solid waste management:
About 5 percent of the institutions reported that there exists an environmental programme in their institutions. Another 5 percent reported no waste storage facility in place and 4.2 percent reported that they needed a dustbin. As for the disposal of solid waste, most of the institutions reported burning as a means of disposal, with 40.6 percent reporting burning on-site and 26 percent burning off-site.
With regards to sewage disposal in health institutions, tankers accounted for the highest. For health centres and hospitals, 42.9 and 40.0 percent of institutions respectively, use tankers to dispose sewage. Whilst for out-reach centres, pit in the ground accounted for the highest proportion with 9.0 percent, and this may be because of the nature of the facility. For the educational institutions, pit in the ground and tankers accounted for the highest proportion, each constituting about 22 percent. The high prevalence of pit latrines in the grounds of institutions could be attributed to the fact that most of the educational institutions surveyed were found in rural areas where the use of pit latrines is quite common.
There is a need for the improvement and sustainability of water and sanitary conditions in educational and health facilities in general. Although most institutions covered in the survey reported having some form of latrine facilities, the number of cubicles available to children (lower basic and nursery schools in particular) and out-patients leaves a lot to be desired. Apart from the inadequacy of the number of cubicles available, the type of pit latrines available to most of the institutions covered in this survey are not hygienic and are likely to be sources of disease.
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Water and Environmental Sanitation