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Real lives

Water and sanitation makes school girl-friendly in Juba, southern Sudan

© UNICEF Sudan/2005
Harriet Jore, 14, enters a newly-built latrine in her school in Juba, southern Sudan.
KHARTOUM, Sudan, 26 January 2005 – Lack of water and sanitation has made studies a constant struggle for the 15,000 students at St. Joseph Basic School in Juba, the capital of Bahr el Jebel state in southern Sudan. To create a better learning environment for these children and to keep them in school, UNICEF has stepped in to bring much needed clean water and sanitation facilities to schools in Juba.

“In the past we were polluting the already polluted environment surrounding our school,” says Harriet Jore, a 14-year-old schoolgirl. “We had to use the open area around the school for defecation, because there was no ‘musturah’ (latrine) in our school. I feel sorry and shameful for that.”

© UNICEF Sudan/2005
Students, especial girls, are happy with the new sanitation facilities installed at St. Joseph Basic School in Juba, southern Sudan.
Harriet’s twenty classmates, boys and girls alike, nodded in agreement. Harriet and her classmates had to carry their own daily water supply from home. “Sometimes, the water spills out and spoils my books. Other times it is finished before the end of the day, and I have to go to churches, mosques or even restaurants to fill the bottles again,” says Harriet.

The lack of sanitation facilities in the school is an important factor contributing to the dropout of many girls, especially when they reach the 6th and 7th grades, according to John Wani Aliseo, headmaster of St. Joseph Basic School. He noted that this has been true for most of the schools in Juba, a town suffered greatly during the long civil war between the Sudanese government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement.

Long before a Peace Agreement was signed on 9 January 2005, UNICEF joined hands with the Ministry of Education and the National Water Corporation to provide Juba schools with water supply, sanitation facilities and hygiene education. The School Sanitation and Hygiene Education (SSHE) Project started in 2001 and expanded in 2002, and has grown ever since.

Under the project, the schools are provided with adequate water and sanitation facilities. Thirty-one teachers have been trained on school hygiene issues. Several schools have started student health clubs to oversee the appropriateness of using the sanitation and water facilities in the schools. “We are training the children with good hygiene practices and they then pass the knowledge onto their parents,” says John Wani Aliseo.

“I feel happy,” says a beaming Harriet. ‘We have enough latrines, which helped us girls especially. Now we are in a better position to learn our lessons and to pass our final exams. Our life is easier and our school is more girl-friendly.”



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