From pit latrines and streams to ventilated improved pit toilets and water tanks
GOROKA, Papua New Guinea, 16 February 2016 - Ten-year-old Japhet, who is in grade two, loves school but has been dreading to go to school every day for the past couple of years as he felt nauseated each time he had to use the school’s pit latrines.
That is until a year ago when UNICEF built a couple of modern Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrines with proper toilet seats and installed a 9,000 litre rain harvesting water tank for the 150 elementary students that attend Korepa Elementary School in the Daulo District of Eastern Highlands Province.
“I like school very much but before I used to get sick a lot. Our toilets had no seats and it was smelly. The small children defecated around the pit and I used to vomit a lot after using the toilet,” says Japhet.
“Now our new toilets have good seats, they don’t smell and they have doors. We also have a new tank and sinks to wash our hands after using the toilet and after playing,” he adds.
Korepa Elementary School is nestled against the famous Daulo foothills. The school’s location is picturesque, perched on an altitude against an amazing backdrop of greenery and mountains but separated from road access by a fast flowing stream some 20 meters downhill from the school, which for years was the only water source for the students, teachers, and their families and nearby communities. It was also the only source of piped water for the nearby Korepa Primary School but that didn’t last long when the pipes clogged up stopping the water from being piped to reservoir tanks.
“Before UNICEF gave us the tank, we used to walk down the hill to the stream to drink water and wash our hands. But many times we don’t wash our hands after using the toilet because we didn’t like walking down the hill just to wash our hands, especially when it rains because the foot path is very slippery,” Japhet states.
“Now we don’t need to go to the stream for water. We have the tank and we can wash our hands at the sinks,” he adds.
When the nearby villagers heard UNICEF was supporting the installation of water and sanitation hygiene facilities for the school, they were only too happy to help haul the 9,000 litre water tank down the slope, across the stream and up another hill to its resting place at the school.
“The tank and other supplies were delivered at the drop off point on the other side of the stream. The men in the community tied ropes around the tank and pulled it up to the school. They also carried the cement bags, gravel and other supplies from across the stream to the school because we are not connected to the road,” explains Logani Gunia, the Headmaster at Korepa Elementary School.
UNICEF is supporting Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) projects in schools in Papua New Guinea by installing modern ventilated improved toilets and building handwashing stations so children can wash their hands.
In some schools, UNICEF is adding changing rooms for older girls. This is expected to contribute to an increase in school attendance for older girls because it means they no longer have to go home to change during their menstruation periods.
At Korepa Elementary School, Headmaster Gunia has gone a step further by providing soap and hand towels for his students so they can wash their hands at critical times – after playing, before eating and after using the toilet.
“I thank UNICEF for the tank and toilets. The community is pleased about this because they also get clean water from this tank, especially the women who pass here to go to and from their gardens every day. ” says Headmaster Gunia.