AWARE (Achieving WAsh for Rights to Education) works in a remote forest area where the dominant communities are tribal populations, Dalits and people displaced from neighbouring states; the area is very poor, and children struggle to get a quality education - partly because so few schools have decent (if any) toilets or hand washing facilities. Lack of sanitation makes school unpleasant, particularly for menstruating girls, so students often choose to miss school and stay home instead. Hygiene at home is not much better - less than 40% of local homes have toilets - and sanitation-related disease is common. This is dangerous, as well as a further cause of school absenteeism.
We are addressing this problem with students and teachers in 13 schools: 5 pre-schools (none of which have any toilets); 5 primary schools (only 2 have toilets, and they are not fit for purpose); and 3 high schools (basic toilets but no water - boys choose to defecate in open fields rather than use the toilets, and girls use them only if they absolutely have to).
- building toilets and improving existing facilities in schools, in partnership with Modern Architects for Rural India (MARI);
- running awareness sessions on sanitation, hygiene and menstrual hygiene management for students;
- running awareness sessions for the community, leading to better understanding of hygiene and a greater inclination to practise safe sanitation;
- giving local people information on government grants for building their own toilets at home.
In this way we aim to improve both community health and school attendance.
For more information on the programme, please contact our Programme Manager Arpita.
Photographs: top right - the boys' 'toilets' at Katapur School before we started construction; middle and bottom - during construction by MARI