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Bringing Water and Sanitation to Rural Schools

Location: Ranchi

Water and sanitation facilities are an essential prerequisite for improving health standards in marginalized and deprived rural communities, and meeting the sanitation needs of the schoolchildren in these villages is equally important. Yet though toilets are mandated by law, in many schools they don't work, are unsanitary, or are kept locked and reserved for teachers. For adolescent girls in particular, lack of toilet facilities has a significant negative impact on school attendance, and many drop out altogether for this reason.

Funded by Simavi, IDF embarked on a project in nine schools in nine villages to install separate girls' and boys' toilets and hand pumps to provide safe water for drinking and hand washing. As well as providing hardware and installation of new toilets, IDF staff also trained villagers in routine maintenance and repair. In addition, a roof water harvesting installation is planned to recharge the groundwater. As an integral part of the intervention, staff also worked directly with schoolteachers and parents to educate them about water quality and the importance of good hygiene practices in preventing disease. Information, education, and communication materials were designed as an additional tool to convey the health and hygiene message, and orientations for teachers were conducted in all the schools.

As a result of the intervention, hand washing among schoolchildren became an established practice, the number of open defecations in the surrounding area decreased, and the incidence of diarrhea and other diseases among this population fell. Equipped with their new amenities, schoolchildren were able to enjoy better health, greater comfort, and a conducive learning environment.

Children learn good hygiene practices and are rewarded for following them scrupulously