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School Sanitation and Hygiene Education in Tajikistan

Region: Central Asia, Tajikistan
Author: Ikram Davnorov, Project Manager, ECOLOGIA Dushanbe (Tajikistan)
Consortium Member: ECOLOGIA - USA
Status: Needs Funding Budget: $33000 Collected: $0 Needs: $33000
Goal: to improve health and educational opportunities for children and communities in Tajikistan, through implementation of safe water use and sanitary human waste disposal practices
Comment: This project meets clear needs in this region. Funds for facility construction, and training in basic sanitation for teachers and students, will result in long-term gains in health, mental and physical energy, and children's ability to take advantage of educational opportunities.

Background information

Drought in the year 2000 clearly showed that water distribution systems in Tajikistan are in a crumbling state. More and more systems are in disrepair, and the water supply for large portions of the country, especially in rural areas, is becoming inadequate, causing many people to use alternative and unsafe water sources such as canals. The most affected communities live in the pocket of “rainfed” agricultural lands and totally depend on precipitation not only for crop production but also for drinking and other domestic purposes. Most of the rural population (70%) never had access to piped water supply and relies on open water sources. Many communities' capacity to maintain and improve water and sanitation facilities remains poor due to the excessive reliance on centralized maintenance encouraged by the former system.

Traditionally, health and hygiene education in schools during Soviet times focused on covering theory and memorization of facts from the official school curriculum, rather than on strengthening hygiene practices. The Government provided formal, culturally non-specific education that failed to generate interest, particularly in remote rural areas. Over the past ten years, this topic in schools has been largely disregarded. On the other hand, because of the water shortages and infrastructure problems mentioned above, many schools are spending time and energy just to collect water for daily survival.

Since 1994, UNICEF through the NGO ECOLOGIA in Tajikistan has been developing activities in water, sanitation and hygiene education in more than 700 schools in Tajikistan. But despite efforts by UNICEF/ECOLOGIA and other International Organizations and NGOs, the safe water supply and basic sanitation in many schools remains poor. Large numbers of rural schools and health centres lack access to sanitary facilities like latrines and hand washing facilities. Even before the civil war, environmental sanitation in rural areas was not a priority. Less than 5% of the total rural population had access to proper sewerage systems. Pit latrines are the commonly used sanitation facility. Poor maintenance of these facilities, especially at public places as schools and health centres has resulted in unacceptable hygienic conditions.

Overall the PROBLEMS can be summarized as follows:

Under these conditions, schools become unsafe places where diseases are transmitted. One of the major problems faced by school age children is infection by parasites and flukes. These and other diseases, often sanitation related, obviously contribute to absenteeism, but there is a more hidden aspect: Poor health of children affects their ability to learn and therefore influences their perspective in life. Good health at school is essential for now and an investment for the future.

Working with Children on basic hygiene and sanitation is very important:

  • Most children are eager to learn. Schools can stimulate and support positive behavioral change in children.
  • Children have important roles in household chores related to hygiene.
  • Children may question existing practices in the household and become agents of change within their families and communities.
  • Children are future parents. What they learn at school is likely to be passed on their own children.

    Project time frame: sixteen months

    Target area: Sugd Oblast (around Khojand), 30 schools
    Target groups:

    Programme strategies: Methods of implementation

    Life-Skills Development:
    1. Training of the school staff involved, using the, so-called, ‘cascade model’. Which implies that part of the staff will be trained, passing the knowledge on to other colleagues, school children and indirectly the parents.
    2. Teachers and staff of the primary health care units in the target areas will be trained in life-skills education focusing on, at least, the following themes:

    A Healthy School Environment
    For each school, a joint assessment on the existing water and sanitation conditions will be made with the school director and teachers, as well as, with the school children, primary health care staff and representatives of the Parents and Teachers Associations.
    On the basis of the budget available, a draft plan for renovation and a ‘maintenance and operation plan’ will be developed and agreed upon in writing by all parties involved.
    The programme provides construction materials and supervision of construction.
    The school has to provide all manual labor preferably through volunteer labor of parents and/or community members. For the operation and maintenance of the facilities, mechanisms will be developed for the purchasing of materials need for minor repairs, soap, towels, etc.

    Once the project has been implemented the school facilities will at least consist of:

    Outreach to Families and Communities
    In all stages of the implementation of the programme, parents and teachers associations will be involved. To strengthen the activities in the schools, simultaneously a public awareness campaign on sanitation and hygiene will be implemented at the oblast [county] level.

    Monitoring and Evaluation
    For the day-to-day implementation of the programme at school level, ‘implementation and monitoring committees’ will be established. These committees consist of the following members:

    In addition to giving follow-up to the education and construction activities, the committee will keep a record on the health statistics/absentees in the school. This will allow them to monitor the health impact of the programme, as well as, will quickly show the need for corrective measures, if considered necessary. Frequency of meetings: every two months.

    Management, implementation and sustainability
    The implementation of the programme will be coordinated by local NGOs under the supervision of ECOLOGIA with the UNICEF Country Office in Tajikistan. The design and construction of facilities in each school will take a total of 8 months. The educational activities are an ongoing process simultaneously to the construction phase. The programme will support the educational part, for a period of 8 months, after which it should be self-sustained. Once the programme has been implemented, the "implementation and monitoring committees" in each school will be transformed into "monitoring committees". With technical support of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health the programme will become self-sustainable after 15 months.

    Rehabilitation and construction of facilities ($1,000/school) $15,000
    Production of educational materials $7,500
    Workshops and preparatory meetings for 30 schools $2,500
    Programme support $5,000
    Virtual Foundation administrative fee $3,000
    Total Requested for Project $33,000