Free from waterborne infections
Good sanitation and hygiene in disaster prone areas
Jombo Primary School has made significant strides in promoting hygiene, sanitation, and the overall welfare of its students.
Up until last year, the school relied on a borehole for water, which according to Rhoda Malunga, the school's head teacher, frequently broke down. The water from the borehole was salty, which further complicated matters.
"When it broke down, learners had to cross the main road to access water," she explains. "Crossing the road put our students at risk from oncoming vehicles. Additionally, access to the water point was sometimes denied, or the water point was so crowded that some learners missed their classes."
UNICEF's intervention, funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), has put such issues to rest. They installed a solar-powered system that provides the school with clean and safe water. They constructed two water points, built gender-segregated toilets equipped with handwashing facilities, and provided the necessary hygiene supplies such as buckets and soap.
"To alleviate tension with the local community over water access, two additional water points were constructed for the surrounding villages," Malunga adds. "The community uses their water points and we use ours. Occasionally, they use our water points, particularly after school hours. UNICEF also provided us with large water storage buckets and wash facilities in the toilets."
After Cyclone Freddy devastated local homes, displaced individuals relocated to a nearby camp. Despite the close proximity of the school and the Jombo camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), conflicts between the two groups have been minimal.
"The IDPs mainly use water points in their communities, but sometimes they use ours after asking for permission," states Malunga.
However, Maureen France Thole, a leader of the Jombo camp, expressed concern that the IDPs' continued presence could disrupt the school's operations due to their occasional need to use the school's more convenient water points.
UNICEF aims to improve cholera and flood response by providing essential services that will enhance targeted interventions for cholera and protect affected communities, including women and children.
Malawi has experienced its worst cholera outbreak in its recorded history, with 58,616 cases and 1,756 deaths registered up until May 2023.
Despite the school being located in Chikwawa, one of the districts impacted by the cholera outbreak and Cyclone Freddy, it has not reported any cases.
"The hygiene supplies we received, and the WASH facilities have improved our hygiene practices. As a result, we've had no cholera cases, despite being in a district affected by the disease," Malunga concludes.