Promoting inclusive sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools

Fiji Inclusive Sport Handwashing 2

The Community Based Sanitation Market (CBSM) is a registered business that was established as part of Live and Learn Environmental Education’s (LLEE) Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing Improvement Program (WPSMIP) through funding from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Civil Society WASH Fund. The CBSM aims to provide affordable and appropriate sanitation solutions to customers that normally cannot afford to purchase or build a toilet.

In addition to selling their products to individual customers, the CBSM has recently been engaged by LLEE to assist with upgrading sanitation and hygiene facilities at twelve schools. A component of the WPSMIP is a WASH in Schools program that runs in 16 schools around Suva. One of the major gaps in the WASH infrastructure of Fijian schools is the lack of accessible facilities for people with physical disabilities. LLEE’s bottleneck analysis of twelve of its target schools revealed that this was indeed the case for these schools as well.

The CBSM liaised with the Head Teachers, school management, and the WASH Committees at each school to determine the upgrades that each school required to provide one toilet cubicle for girls and one for boys that was accessible to younger students and those with special needs. Additionally, modifications were made so that students from the younger classes could comfortably access the sanitation and hygiene facilities. To ensure accessibility, the following upgrades were proposed in each of the 12 twelves: ramps, railings, raised blocks for the younger children to stand on, soap holders and signs.

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The twelve schools include the Fiji School for the Blind, Gospel School for the Deaf and Suva Special School. Although these schools cater exclusively for students with disabilities, the sanitation and hygiene facilities at these schools do not. Rather than providing modifications to only two toilet cubicles as in the other nine schools, the CBSM will be working with the teachers at these schools to make sure all the sanitation and hygiene facilities cater to the specific needs of their students.  While doing their assessments, the CBSM also noted down the small tasks that are needed for the sustainable operation and maintenance of the sanitation and hygiene facilities in the schools. The CBSM worked with the school management to repair minor leaks and replace broken cisterns along with other minor repairs to the toilets and handwashing stations. This work links back into the school O&M Plans that were developed by the school WASH Committees and facilitated by LLEE. Putting the O&M Plan into action and seeing how simple daily and monthly checks can save the school time and money in the long run will help to solidify the O&M Plans and the role of the school WASH Committee.

Linking the CBSM to the schools has reinforced the roles of the CBSM and also those of Head Teachers, classroom teachers, school management and the WASH Committees. Each of the school actors have a responsibility to ensure all their students have access to safe sanitation and hygiene facilities and now they can utilize the CBSM for construction support. For the CBSM, gaining further experience in accessing existing facilities and creating bills of quantity, as well as, performing the construction and plumbing work, has helped to build their skills and their confidence.

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