“We teach students about personal hygiene. But we don’t have sufficient arrangements for the students to practice that. As result, most of the time students take their tiffin without washing their hands,” says primary school teacher Rokeya Akter.
In Bangladesh, thousands of schools lack even the most basic of water and sanitation facilities. In Mahuttuly school, where Rokeya teaches, the situation is no different.
The school, which is located in Old Dhaka, in the southern part of the city consists of a boys and girls school. For the 511 students in the girls’ section, there are just two poorly functioning toilets with no proper handwashing facilities. There is also no clean drinking water available.
“I love to come to school regularly,” says class 4 student, Sumia Akter. “But when I need to use the toilet, I become upset thinking about the queue to use it. The same thing happens for handwashing. So, most of the time I try not to go the toilet and I eat my tiffin without washing hands. If I wait for handwashing, then my tiffin time will come to an end. I wish if we have sufficient facilities.”
Poor hygiene practices, such as not washing hands with soap, are major contributors to ill health and the spread of disease, particularly amongst children.
To improve children’s health and ensure that they remain in school, WSUP is constructing a new water and sanitation block in Mahuttully. This new block will have three new toilets, a handwashing station and provision of menstrual hygiene facilities. Construction of the new facilities has just begun, and the work is expected to be complete in early May.
Support our schools work in Bangladesh
This week, volunteer Peter Hayes is all set to trek the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal – raising funds to help children in schools in Bangladesh, access clean water and safe sanitation.
As someone who is passionate about hiking and education, what better way to make a difference! The Annapurna range contributes to the Ganges plain water supply that provides water to millions of people across central Asia.
Peter said, “Access to clean water and safe sanitation is something that many others and I take for granted, the least we could do is support the communities that lack access to this basic human right. I could not imagine a more appropriate cause to represent, especially during World Water Day.”
Peter’s trek begins on 19th March and will go on for 18 days, covering a distance of 200 km. He is hoping to raise enough funds to be able to fund two new water and sanitation blocks in primary schools in Rangpur, Bangladesh.
How WSUP works in schools
Globally, more than 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illnesses – of which 40% are transmitted at school.
To improve children’s health and educational prospects, WSUP constructs new facilities and delivers integrated awareness and outreach campaigns.
But action is not just needed within schools. WSUP’s experience is that improved hygiene practices can only be sustained if good facilities and hygiene education also extend to the wider community including public health facilities.
WSUP’s approach is therefore to integrate improvements in urban schools with action in the surrounding community, to ensure the best possible outcome for children’s health and education prospects to help break the cycle of poverty.
To date, we have made a lasting improvement on facilities in around 200 schools globally, but a lot more needs to be done.
Our schools work in the countries we work in is supported by Cartier Philanthropy, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Dubai Cares, RVO, Unilever, USAID, and Wasser fuer Wasser.