The importance of building and repairing latrines in schools
On a recent visit to Bonke Woreda in the Gamo Gofa region of southern Ethiopia, we witnessed first-hand the importance of improving the environment in the fight against avoidable blindness.
Bonke is a very remote part of southern Ethiopia which is not easily accessible, particularly during the rainy season. With a population of 167,000 people it is difficult to establish and maintain proper sanitation facilities. As a result, bacteria can spread quickly and trachoma infections are very common. Until recently, open field defecation around the periphery of the villages was a common phenomenon in the area. This caused a huge problem for local schools that typically have around 300 pupils or more.
While in Bonke we visited a school nestled in the hills and surrounded by a number of small villages. We were shown an old latrine made out of reeds which had fallen down and decayed. This latrine was no longer being used by the children as it provided absolutely no privacy.
ORBIS recently built a latrine in the grounds of the school and this one was being used. However, the girls were objecting to using the same latrine as the boys so ORBIS was in the process of funding a second latrine in the school which was being built by a group of local men. The fact that demand exists for a second latrine within the school grounds reflects the changing attitudes amongst the children towards sanitation. This shows very positive progress in the fight against avoidable blindness.
As a result of ORBIS trained teachers and the construction of latrines in schools like the one we visited in Bonke, the practice of open field defecation is greatly reduced.
The changes in the attitudes and practices of the children are resulting in more and more people in the community realising the importance of good personal hygiene and sanitation. With your help ORBIS can fund the building of more latrines in schools and fight the spread of diseases like trachoma.
21st January 2013
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