Children and community members unite in the management of water and sanitation at school
Zambézia Province, April 2008 – The lives of the children at Limuila Primary School and the surrounding community, in the Maganja da Costa district, have improved tremendously since last year, due to the installation of a source of clean drinking water, and improved latrines.
Mariamo, is 13 years old and a fourth grade pupil at the school: “We suffered because there was no water. We had to bring water from home in bottles, which was never enough and quickly ran out. Now we have drinking water all the time and water to clean the latrines too”, she says.
“The old latrines had no water, they smelt bad, and there was nowhere to sit. There are now separate ones for boys and girls that have a clean place to sit and running water, and we can even wash our hands after using the latrines too”, adds Mariamo enthusiastically.
From the start of the Child Friendly Schools programme in 2006 until now, about 68 water sources have been built in the Maganja da Costa district, benefiting more than 34,400 pupils and 19,000 members in the surrounding communities.
There are also sanitation infrastructures under construction in about 35 other schools in the same district.
A fundamental component of this initiative is the Hygiene Education Programme that has been implemented in all 128 schools. The programme promotes the involvement of the School Councils –comprised of members of the community, teachers and pupils– to manage and maintain the water and sanitation infrastructures themselves. So far Sanitation Committees have been set up in 73 schools involving 1,168 pupils and 73 teachers, as well as members of the community.
“I was trained to maintain the water pump, so when the pump broke down recently, myself and the members of the community acquired the parts we needed and repaired the breakdown quickly”, Salazar says proudly.
Women are also being strongly encouraged to participate in the management of the water and sanitation infrastructures.
“Two years ago I was elected by the School Council to sit on the Water and Sanitation Committee. My role is to ensure good management and cleanliness of the water source and latrines”, says 24 year old Ivane Alfredo, who has two children studying at the Limuila Primary School.
“I also collect money from the users of the water source that goes into a communal fund, to guarantee we always have money to buy parts in the event of a breakdown”, she adds.
However, Ivane explains that vulnerable people, particularly children, are encouraged to use the water even if they cannot afford to pay. They also contribute to the management of the water source by keeping it clean and well maintained.
“Since we’ve had this source, we’ve stopped drinking water from the river and we no longer have diarrhoea, or catch cholera or malaria as often”, says Ivane.
According to the Director of the school, José Roben Falaquina, the community’s involvement has had many positive effects on the school and they have overcome an important barrier to children’s attendance, as well as the prevention of many infections and infestations:
“The number of pupils is growing, there are more girls now and the drop-out rate is falling. The management of the school is much better with the participation of the community”, he says with satisfaction.
Maganja da Costa is one of the seven districts to be supported through the Child-Friendly Schools programme, which is expected to reach 1,000 schools in the country by 2010. The aim is to have improved access to quality education by creating an inclusive child-friendly teaching and learning environment that is particularly sensitive to the needs of girls, and ensuring the protection of vulnerable children.
See images from the Child-Friendly Schools programme in Maganja da Costa district.
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