Michesi Primary School Sanitation

Michesi Primary is a popular local rural school with 910 pupils aged between 6 and 17years—56% girls— and 28 staff, drawing children from 11 villages.

This school has many challenges, but the most pressing one was the lack of toilet facilities. There were just 2 pit-latrines, for all 938 learners and staff on site This of course brought challenges to health, a polluted environment, and importantly, the loss of education for the 289 girls of menstruating age, absenting themselves from school several days each month because there were no washroom facilities for them to change in.

Parents and the local community had tried to help in the past, digging pits and erecting temporary shelters, but the pits filled and structures fell in the storms and cyclonic weather.

So we planned a new toilet block for girls .....

Digging & brick-lining the pit - like building a whole house underground

Pit latrines are the accepted norm for toilet facilities, so a huge pit was hand-dug, 6m long and 4m deep, then lined with bricks and the floor slab concreted over the top.

The building took shape—internal walls were put in place, door frames fitted, walls plastered and floors laid.

Timbers were erected to support the roof and iron sheets added. The building was painted, doors hung, fitted with locks for privacy, and the modesty wall built.

Parents, as their contribution, provided and transported much of the sand to the building site and provided security.

It was an exciting project that's energised the children and the whole community!

Within three months, the girls’ toilet block was complete!

The unit has 4 cubicles, plus a private washroom, so all the girls’ menstrual issues can be handled discreetly. It’s tripled the sanitation available on site with the original toilet (2 cubicles) reverting back to male use.

Undoubtedly, this construction impacted the whole community, promoting better health and well-being, but also encouraged hope and instilled pride in the school and the value of education.

The responsibility for its upkeep and maintenance was passed to the governing board - a major asset that’s expected to be in use for over a decade.

As a side note:

Alongside the obvious benefits to the school, this project also provided significant employment and income for dozens of local craftsmen—

brickmakers, woodcutters, carpenters, welders, transporters, quarry stone producers, digging & building teams, roofing contractors, and local building material suppliers

—during the intensive “hunger period” when most families were struggling to afford food.

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