In our region of operations, over 25% of children under the age of five die every year from effects of drinking unsafe water. Also barely half of the population has access to disinfected water; while 80% of illnesses detected in the region originate from the water people drink. Sadly about 95% of the population depends on the potentially contaminated water points; and worse still, over 50% of the people are without access to sanitation. Coupled to this scary situation is the fact that many families in the Niger Delta region are unable to afford to send their children to school. Most adults in the region are illiterates. For those children who are fortunate enough to attend school, 20-25% is absent due to intestinal illness or caring for the needs of other family members afflicted.
In partnership with community based groups such as the Rotary Clubs of Aladimma and Owerri respectively (District 9140 of Rotary International), we have designed and developed communal pour-flush and Ventilation Improved Pit (VIP) latrines in two public schools. Collaboratively, we have achieved this milestone because of our conviction that it takes the art of leadership to prove that poverty is much more than a lack of income or a shortage of material goods. And that human poverty, the lack of basic capabilities for participating in the activities of the community, is greatly exacerbated by lack of sanitation or toilets.
Therefore, for a group of students/pupils living in hostels surrounded by human waste, it is stigmatizing and marginalizing. It creates embarrassment and deprives them of participation, choices and opportunities. This sadly was the lot of the students of the Amakohia Secondary School, Amakohia, Owerri and the Special School for the Deaf, Orodo, Mbaitoli LGA of Imo State. Before the collaborative interventions, these schools which collectively have a population of 1,350 students had no toilet facilities any kind. Both schools are also mixed/co-educational (boys and girls together).
Then, students answering the call of nature adopted open defecation. It was a nauseating site to behold these students – male and female alike do this. The result was that these students were accordingly deprived of some primary economic benefits linked with having toilets; and these included; saving time; reducing direct and indirect health costs; increasing the return on investments in education; and safeguarding nearby water resources etc. The biggest element in all these was saving time. By lacking toilets at the hostels, the students spent a great deal of time each day looking for secluded places to defecate within and around the school premises. The World Health Organization estimates this time has an economic value of well over US$ 100 billion each year. Many workdays are lost to diarrheal disease –when the student is ill as well as when he is caring for a sick friend/colleague.
Other social factors concurrently addressed by the intervention are those of privacy, dignity, safety, convenience and status. The hundreds of students who must defecate behind bushes, in plastic bags, in roadside ditches face daily assaults to their human dignity. The female students were hit hardest by the absence of toilets in the school as they have their dignity vulnerable to assault by locals. Therefore, the design, building and donation of 2 blocks of Pour flush and VIP latrines in the school at this time is a welcome accomplishment.
According to Ebuka; the head boy of one of the schools: ‘‘…..a clean toilet in my school and in my time here is a breakthrough. Please tell your fund raisers that we are grateful’’
This further enriches our project outcomes as follows:
• Saved over 300,000 Children from every day diarrhea diseases
• Gained over 129,100 School Attendance Days for Children
• Contributed in reducing endemic cases of gastro-enteritis in the region
We are grateful to Global Giving and all our benefactors and donors who use its platform to reach us with the critical funds required in achieving our objectives. Please accept our warm gratitude and appreciation. Please kindly do not get bored or fatigued in supporting project - Give Safe Drinking Water - Save a Child from Dying!
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Imo State, NIGERIA,