New Latrine to Help Keep Girls in School

Latrines are of critical importance for education – as important, if not more important than desks, classrooms, books, and libraries – and they are especially important for girls’ education. There are many reasons why older Ugandan girls miss school, but lacking washing facilities and privacy at school is an important reason why girls stay home during their menstrual periods. We have found that when adequate latrine facilities exist and sanitary pads are available, attendance and performance of girls tends to improve. We work to break down both of these barriers in our girls support program (see also our reusable menstrual pad project).

Example of one of KFSP’s girl-friendly latrines.

As a result of COVID, which closed schools for almost two years in Uganda, infrastructure maintenance suffered. When the schools re-opened in 2022, we asked our 16 partner schools for their most pressing needs. They indicated that 45% of their latrines were full, collapsing, or otherwise non-functioning. Given this great need and its impact on girls’ education, helping schools improve their latrines is a priority for us. 

The Kasiisi Project and its Ugandan counterpart (Kibale Forest Schools Program or KFSP) recently received a generous grant from the Rotary Club of Bowling Green, Ohio to build a latrine at one of our partner schools, Kyakatara Primary School. Kyakatara (pronounced CHA-KA-TA-RAH) enrolls 510 students in Levels P1-P7 (ages 4-14), and 250 of its students are girls (49%). Kyakatara was chosen because its current latrine for girls was no longer usable and the school is an engaged partner in our efforts to improve education, health, and commitment to conservation around Kibale National Park. 

Rural schools do not have access to running water, so pit latrines are the best option. We used a “girl friendly” design that has worked successfully for our schools in the past. There are six stalls in total with the first and last stalls being designated for washing (important for girls during menstruation) and the center four stalls are latrines stances. Soap and jerry cans of water are also supplied in the washing areas. The latrine was designed with a 5-foot wall in front of the stalls to increase privacy for girls using the facility.

Girls and their Head Teacher celebrate the opening of the latrine at Kyakatara Primary School.

The new latrine was opened for use on April 18. Kyakatara’s Head Teacher, Kanyunyuzi Jacinta, along with their health leader, teachers, students, and KFSP staff marked the happy occasion with a small ceremony. At the event, Kyakatara’s Head Teacher remarked, “Our girls will no longer miss school because of the sanitary facilities since they will be having a proper place to change from. [This latrine] has not only improved our school infrastructure but also the wellbeing of the girl child at Kyakatara Primary School.”

We are grateful to the Rotary Club of Bowling Green Ohio for the funding that made this impactful project possible and to the Rotary Club of Ibanda for inspecting the facility. Thank you for your partnership on the behalf of girls!

 

New latrine