Combined Services Third World Fund Project

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Update - October 2015

Our organisation was delighted to receive funding from the Combined Services Third World Fund (CSTWF) in 2014 for construction of four double pit latrines at Mwapona Primary School. This school has 886 pupils, many of whom are orphaned. It is located in a very deprived part of Zambia. It operates a food programme for children who live in child-headed homes.

Prior to receipt of funding from the CSTWF, toilet conditions at the school were totally inadequate. There were two very old and very basic pit latrines. These were unventilated and were not easily cleanable so conditions tended to be very unsanitary. In addition to the two old sub-standard pit latrines, two new double pit latrines were constructed in 2014. These were allocated to the younger grades as these children were more vulnerable to infection.

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Before commencement of this project, the four existing pit latrines were totally inadequate to cater for the needs of the teachers and children at the school. There are long queues as a result. Children sometimes spent the whole break time queuing. They often asked for permission to leave when the break time was approaching so that they could rush to the toilet. Unsanitary conditions posed a significant infection control problem as overuse led to serious difficulties keeping the latrines clean. This led to problems with spread of infection. In particular, Cholera and Dysentery were a problem, especially in rainy weather. This problem was compounded by the vulnerability of the many of the children due to ill health resulting from malnutrition. There was always an objectionable smell and some children chose to urinate outside the toilets rather than go inside. This exacerbated the problem. The younger children often had a problem controlling their bladders while queuing. Urinary tract infections were very common.

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The excavation and construction of the four double pit latrine funded by the CSTWF commenced in November 2014. The rainy season then started in December 2014 and construction work had to be stalled for a number of months as the holes filled with water and it was impossible for the builder to continue. The toilets were completed in June 2015.

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There is still a shortage of sanitary accommodation at the school which ideally should have sixteen latrines to effectively cater for the numbers of teachers and children in attendance. However, the construction of four new double pit latrines has in effect doubled the amount of sanitary accommodation at the school and it has greatly improved the situation. Grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 now have their own toilets. Cleaning is more easily done so the risk of spread of infection is greatly reduced. The children are much happier and take pride in the improved facilities. Morale has improved among teachers, pupils and parents. Having seen the difference this project has made, the parents are now working to raise funding with a view to building a toilet for the teachers, who currently share the same toilets which the children use. The project has greatly helped cooperation between the school and the parents. They had to work together to raise additional funding to meet the shortfall when the cost of materials increased during the course of the project. The project has been a great success and the school is deeply grateful to the CSTWF for its invaluable support.

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