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Sanitation facilities at school encourage children to expand demand for healthier environment to home and community

© UNICEF Myanmar/2013/Myo Thame
New latrines Kadauksa Primary School also has hand washing facilities; two for girls and two for boys

By Sandar Linn

PANTANAW, 14 June 2013 – Villagers in Kadauksa accepted diarrhoea as a common illness not linking it to poor sanitation and hygiene conditions.
 
Two latrines in the village of 1,000 people was a clear sign that having a clean latrine was never the priority in the farming village, only 10 miles away from the Pantanaw town in Ayeyarwaddy Region.

Ten-year-old Myo Thet Minn grew up seeing widespread diarrhoea without thinking much of it. But that was before sanitation facilities were built at the village primary school and he could tell the difference.

Myo Thet Minn attends the Primary Schools in Kaduaksa in which UNICEF provides clean water and improved sanitation.

As part of the programme, four latrines were built in the school to replace two old wooden shabby latrines which did not have any water. Teachers from the school were trained on school sanitation and hygiene education.

© UNICEF Myanmar/2013/Myo Thame
Ten-year-old Myo Thet Minn who motivated his family to build their own latrine

“Students are happy to use the school latrines and hand washing facilities. The sanitation facilities help with what we teach about sanitation. The students can practice what they learn,” said U Nyan Linn, head of the Kaduaksa village primary school.

“There was no scope for students to practice what they learn in school or at home,” added U Nyan Linn who has been working as a head of the school for about 16 years.
 
Once children are exposed to clean latrines and washing facilities, they take the message to home and wider community and even work as catalysts for change.

“The essence of the programme is, once established the good hygiene and sanitation practices are not limited to schools, but also impacts the larger community,” commented Dr Mya Than Tun, UNICEF Myanmar’s Water and Sanitation Officer.

Now the children are sharing their knowledge and experience further afield.
 
Myo Thet Minn says he related to his parents that how the school latrines are clean with no smells. He urged especially to his father, “I like school latrines. They are the best in the village. No smell at all. I go out in the open to defecate when at home, I don’t want to do that anymore.”

Myo Thet Minn is acting as a trigger for change in his family and succeeded in convincing his parents.

“My father promised me that he will build a latrine at home after he sells the crops from our field,” says Myo Thet Minn with a winning smile.

The children take pride in having sanitation facilities in their school, they also learn to take responsibility and take turns to maintain the toilets.

“I am happy to take care of our school latrine. We have learned about the importance of being healthy and how it is linked to sanitation. I hope the village homes will gradually build more latrine and the whole village will be clean and excreta-free,” added Myo Thet Minn, “I want to be a painter and draw beautiful landscapes. Being healthy is one important factor that will help me achieve my aim, tell my teachers.”

 

 
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