Assignment for Oxfam Novib
The lack of basic knowledge on hygiene and the lack of access to sanitation kills and sickens children and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities. Also in the by war scarred town of Kishanga the sanitation facilities are in a deplorable condition. Latrines are often made of wood and difficult to empty and clean. In one of the schools in Kishanga children did not even want to go inside anymore. “We only had 12 latrines for 1200 pupils. It just wasn’t enough and children were getting sick and preferred to defecate in the open,” explains primary school director Benoit Mafaluku Nguba.
A needs assessment done by Oxfam’s local partner organization ADEPAE demonstrated that there was an especially great need for better sanitation in schools and health centres, but also that most people were unaware of basic hygiene practices. They built a total of 104 latrines in schools and health centres in and around Kishanga. And together with UNICEF they distributed booklets and taught people the basics of proper hygiene and sanitation.
Willy Nshokano Chagane is one of ADEAPAEs technicians who was in charge of the project. Oxfam taught him how to build latrines that meet basic hygiene standards. “The latrines we built are all made out of concrete. That does not only make them stronger and more durable, they are also easier to clean and to empty than the old wooden ones.”
But in Kishanga the latrines and basic hygiene education are only a drop in an ocean of needs. Many people still lack access to adequate sanitation facilities. “We don’t have enough funding to meet their needs,” says Willy Nshokano Chagane. “The latrines in the school for example are only supposed to be used by the students. But people in the neighbourhood use them too because they have nowhere else to go. Some children even change schools because of it. And if we teach people about the importance of basic hygiene practices, we also need to build more water taps for people to wash their hands.”