Brighter Tanzania Foundation

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World Toilet Day

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 12:09 PM | Jennifer Wisniewski (Administrator)

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Phase 1 of Foundations for the Future, the Brighter Tanzania Foundation capital campaign, includes the installation of toilets. This is significant. Today, only about 40% of schools in Tanzania have adequate latrines. (4)

It is not a pleasant topic to talk about. Yet with so many Tanzanian schools lacking basic sanitation or hygiene services, it needs to be discussed. Let’s talk toilets.

The World Health Organization defines improved sanitation facilities as ” facilities that hygienically separate human excreta from human contact.” (7)  They include toilets with sewer or septic connections, pour-flush latrines, ventilated improved pit latrines and pit latrines with a slab or covered pit. Unimproved sanitation facilities include pit latrines without slabs or platforms, open pit latrines, hanging latrines, bucket latrines or open defecation. Schools must go one step further in order to meet the criteria for basic sanitation services. They must have one usable improved toilet for girls and one for boys.  Hygiene services are defined as handwashing areas with soap and water. (7)

Source: Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools Global Baseline Report 2018

Several populations of children are left particularly vulnerable when the schools they attend lack improved facilities. One group is the disabled. A survey in 2009 showed that disabled children in Tanzania could not access 96% of facilities. A second group is girls. Many of the latrines are especially inappropriate for girls, many of whom end up missing school during their menstrual cycle. (4)

Last year, the World Health Organization released its “Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools Global Baseline Report 2018.” One of its authors wrote of the importance that adequate sanitation and hygiene holds for girls. “Girls attending schools with functional single-sex toilets that provide a private place to wash and change and a reliable supply of water and soap are much more likely to be able to manage their periods with confidence and dignity.” (6)

Of course, the direst consequence that children face from a lack of improved sanitation at schools and at home is poor health. It is believed that poor water and sanitation contribute to malnutrition. An alarming one-third of Tanzanian children under 5 suffer from shunting. In addition, poor sanitation leads to diarrhea-related illnesses. (3) Recently, Tanzania was home to an outbreak of cholera. Between August 2015 and January 2018, 33,421 cases were reported. This included 542 deaths. Over 11% of those afflicted were children under 5. (2)

Some may be surprised to hear that diarrhea-related illness is one of the major causes of death in children under 5 in Sub-Saharan Africa. (5)  And it is preventable. 

Teachers and students at Saving Grace School use a faucet outside of the building for gathering water and washing hands. 

Photo credit: Brighter Tanzania Foundation

In 2016, the Tanzanian government issued a  report, “National Guidelines for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Tanzanian Schools.” In it, the authors recommend that sanitation and hygiene practices be incorporated into the school curriculum. The report made clear that it is essential not just to have toilets but also an area for handwashing. Teachers are encouraged to teach, demonstrate, practice and observe the handwashing in practice. The authors also encourage schools to engage their communities on this issue to ensure that the messages and practices are being reinforced at home. (4)

The toilets at Saving Grace School are referred to as squatters. 

Photo credit: Brighter Tanzania Foundation

At Saving Grace School, the children use what are called a squatters. (Pictured above.) The school has two, for boys and girls. The facility would likely be considered an improved facility. Still, the two stalls serve over 70 children. It is easy to see how upgraded toilet facilities would top the priority list as BTF and Saving Grace School continue to work towards building a brighter future.









Brighter Tanzania Foundation is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations may be tax-deductible.

Phone: (608) 886-9160

8383 Greenway Blvd PMB 633
Middleton, WI 53562

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