|© UNICEF Guinea-Bissau/2011|
|With the availability of potable water and latrines which are safe and hygienic, students in Guniea-Bissau can concentrate on their studies without having to worry about injuring themselves, or falling ill.|
By Iain Murray
BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau, 28 September 2011 - Cia Ndjif, 16, is a fourth grade student living in Botchimil - a community or ‘tabanca’ in the Catió Sector. Every day, he must walk four long kilometers to attend primary school in Camaíupa. Adding to this daily challenge, in recent past, water and sanitation facilities at his school were non-existent, forcing Cia and his fellow schoolmates to openly defecate in a surrounding bush, mere steps away from the classrooms.
The availability of fresh water was also a major concern, as the only well in the vicinity was over 350 meters away and provided very poor quality water.
UNICEF provides support
Thankfully, the situation at the Camaíupa School has greatly improved through a new UNICEF initiative which is providing schools in Guinea-Bissau with hand pumped boreholes, as well as proper sanitation facilities for the students.
For years, the children at the school have suffered from a host of health problems, including diarrhea and stomach aches. As a result, attendance plummeted. Now, with the availability of potable water and latrines which are safe and hygienic, students can concentrate on their studies without having to worry about injuring themselves, or falling ill.
Other schools in nearby communities have also benefitted from the UNICEF-provided boreholes and latrines. Abdulai Sambú, a school director in Mato Foroba community expressed great relief at the new facilities at his institution.
“My bicycle will live longer as I now do not have to ride to the neighboring tabanca in search of water,” he said smiling.
Seco Camará, the president of the school parents’ association in neighboring Cuduco village, echoed Mr. Sambu’s sentiments, thanking UNICEF for what he described as a “miracle”.
Since receiving the new water and sanitation facilities, they’ve had an influx of hundreds of new applications for the next school term - welcome news indeed.