At a school in Madagascar, the education includes how to use a toilet

At a school in Madagascar, the education includes how to use a toilet

Jimmy Raherinandrasana
Lavage des mains après usage des toilettes
UNICEF Madagascar/2021
25 January 2021

In the village of Iabomary in south-east Madagascar, revolutionary change has taken place. Students who once had to use a neighboring field to relieve themselves now have access to latrines, hand washing facilities, safe drinking water and knowledge on the importance of good hygiene.

According to eight-year old Eliane, the total absence of sanitation facilities led to her becoming ill several times with diarrhea and missing classes. "I remember how dirty my books and copybooks were because water was a luxury even for washing my hands," she remembers. The surrounding area soon became a smelly, nauseating cesspool that led many other students to skip classes and stay home. “I would also ask my mother if I could stay home,” says Eliane. “The school had become a place to be avoided.”

Last year, UNICEF, with support from the Government of Japan, built boys’ and girls’ latrines for the school’s more than 600 students. Hand washing and drinking water facilities were also installed and 17 teachers were trained in the promotion proper water and sanitation practices.

The project was designed to ensure that students adapted a daily routine of handwashing with soap, the effective use of latrines, and drinking clean water.

Eliane says her books and copybooks are now very clean because she washes her hands before starting classes and before having snacks. She can now drink safe water thanks to a ceramic filter system installed in the classrooms. And the fields around the school are now clean and safe. In addition, she has a better awareness about hygiene at school as it is integrated into the curriculum.

But most importantly the students are experiencing better health and lower rates of absenteeism as their days are transformed by facilities that are taken for granted in most other schools.

Thanks to Japanese funding, the school will also benefit from the installation of a standpipe.


Toilettes séparées Filles - Garçons

Separate toilets for girls and boys

Lavage des mains après usage des toilettes

Teachers educate students on the use of handwashing devices and latrines, and the practice of handwashing with soap

Les enfants maitrisent la technique du lavage des mains avec savon

The practice of the three key WASH messages, especially at critical moments, is now acquired by students under teacher supervision.