The administration of Katakwi Government Technical School in Getom sub-county, Katakwi District, has appealed to parents to cooperate and contribute UGX 10,000 (Ten thousand) per term for the academic year 2024 for the construction of Eco-San Pit Latrines.
“The school’s pit latrines are full, have an awful stench that can be smelt from meters away, and they are perpetually maggot-infested.”
This was disclosed on Monday, November 6, 2023, by the school’s headteacher, Joseph Aisu Edotun, during an exclusive interview with our reporter.
The school headteacher, Edotun, says that his administration is currently in negotiations with parents to contribute to the construction of ECO-SAN pit latrines, which are drainable.
“This move is in a bid to address the looming shortage of latrines that has hit the technical school. Parents, this is our school, I urge you to comply and pay the 10k per term as we had earlier agreed. No one will help develop our school apart from us,” said Edotun.
The school headteacher hopes to collect about UGX 10,900,000 (ten million nine hundred thousand), intended for the construction of the ECO-SAN pit latrines.
The construction of an Eco-san pit-latrine is not only a practical solution but also an eco-friendly one. It ensures that the facility remains operational even when it becomes full, eliminating the need for frequent construction of new latrines.
What exactly is the problem?
Katakwi Technical School in Getom sub-county, Katakwi, is grappling with a lack of pit latrines, forcing the students to share one pit.
Currently, the whole school is in crisis, as the four-stall pit latrine facility for both boys and girls that was initially in use got filled up.
The headteacher confirms that the situation is alarming, “the students have to queue to share the only available latrine in place.”
“It’s true we are stuck with a lack of latrines. I have written to parents to contribute to the construction of new pit latrines,” said Edotun.
Although there is ongoing construction of a girls’ dormitory with latrines, the boys’ wing 4-stall latrine cannot hold the school’s current overwhelming population.
“In a meeting, I told the Board of Governors (BOG) that we cannot run away from the problem; the boys’ latrines are full,” exclaimed Edotun.
Some of the affected students, while speaking to our reporter, called for immediate intervention from the Government, saying the latrines they are currently using are full.
Odongo Juventine, a first-year student, says they use one pit and they have to remove their shirts when visiting the latrines.
“Our latrines, when it reaches evening, we have to make a line, the smell also sticks on clothes,” said Odongo.
According to 20-year-old Irene Ariokot, who has been at the school for two years, she avoids going to the toilet unless it is absolutely necessary.
“Often times, some class members could tell and make fun of whoever visited the toilet just by the rancid stench on their clothes,” said Ariokot.
Olupot James says that they visit the toilets mostly in the evening so one can afterward take a bath to remove the odour smell that sticks on the clothing.
“At least let the government add us latrines, they are full to capacity, even the feces can splash on you when you visit the pits,” said Odongo.
The students remove their school sweaters and sometimes even shirts and hang them on a tree branch right before entering the pit latrine.
Upon leaving the latrine, most students loiter outside for up to thirty minutes before returning to class.
As you may be aware, in September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Right to Quality Education Team focuses on Goal 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and Goal 6 (Ensures availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all).
In schools, a lack of proper sanitation facilities leads to high absenteeism.
In addition to students missing school for 5-7 days to recover from diarrhea, the student’s family may have to spend money on medical care or medication to help treat this common school disease.
The lack of proper sanitation and handwashing facilities in schools put students, School Administrators, and Staff at increased risk of bacterial and viral infections like diarrhea and COVID-19.
With World Toilet Day to be celebrated next week (every 19th November), I believe it is necessary to celebrate toilets and raise awareness of people, particularly school-going children, living without access to safely managed sanitation.
World Toilet Day, [every 19 November], celebrates toilets and raises awareness … of people living without access to safely managed sanitation.
It is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.”
Having a World Toilet Day to highlight and focus on this pressing issue of a lack of sanitation is sensible for Uganda as a country, Teso as a region, and Katakwi as a district when the statistics show that 4.2 billion people, representing 53.88% of the global population, lack safe sanitation.