How clean water and sanitation affects school attendance in Ganye
It is a globally known fact that toilets are a vital part of a communal setting as they are essential to human existence and daily living. This applies to schools where students spend a significant part of their time. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, nearly one third of schools around the world still lack basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services. In Nigeria, the picture is grime as UNICEF also reports that an estimated eighty six percent of schools lack access to clean water and other sanitation and hygiene services.
Proper hygiene is largely dependent on clean toilets and availability of water, and one of the objectives of the Small Town WASH Activity in improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, is to provide students with sanitary toilets and clean water in schools. Ganye IV Primary School, Ganye Local Government Area (LGA), Adamawa state is one of the schools with a high rate of absenteeism due to lack of water and proper toilet facilities, in the state.
Small Town WASH Activity is a USAID funded project with the objective of improving access to safely managed water and sanitation services in selected small towns of Northeastern Nigeria. Gangarasso-Sangassumi in Ganye LGA, is one of the small towns where this project is being implemented in public institutions such as Health centers, markets, motor parks and schools. To ensure the effective management and sustainability of WASH facilities in the schools, a School Based Management Association (SBMC) composed of selected members of the P.T.A and students, was set up to oversee the management of the facilities.
The issue of students missing school has been a common predicament in the small town of Gangarasso-Sangassumi, due to lack of proper toilet facilities for students to use. However, with the completion of water schemes and sanitation facilities in schools, it is observed that attendance of students has significantly increased due to the availability of clean water and toilets.
12-year-old Zaina (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy), is a female student of Government Girls Primary and Secondary School (GRA), says she likes getting water from the taps situated within the school environment instead of going outside the school to look for water. Not only has attendance increased in schools, female students and teachers are delighted that the toilet facilities are segregated by gender and are women-friendly, with lockable doors to protect their privacy.
The head teacher of Ganye IV Primary School, Jibrin Waziri says “Initially, we encountered a lot of difficulty obtaining water and the toilets are dilapidated, and this makes students leave the school premises during teaching hours or even miss school entirely. But since these facilities were constructed, attendance has increased, and we are very glad that students don’t have to miss classes because of the unavailability of toilets.”
“Having these toilets and water in our school goes a long way in developing our community. The students no longer have to defecate openly, which is very unhealthy, and the teachers can account for a child’s attendance in school because there is no reason for students to leave the school premises in search of water,” says Tijjani, a teacher.