SOUTH African communities have continued to struggle in their quest to access clean and readily available water as well as safe and secure sanitation infrastructure. Schools, in particular, are a serious source of concern with many of them around the country lacking clean water and decent toilets consequently affecting students and their ability to maintain hygiene standards.
This situation is even more dire in the face of the current Covid-19 pandemic which demands very high hygienic standards to prevent its rapid spread.
What are the current statistics regarding access to water and sanitation facilities?
According to the Department of Water, 3 million households in South Africa do not have access to reliable drinking water; and 14.1 million people do not have access to safe sanitation.A study by the Limpopo Department of Basic Education has found that 80% of schools in Limpopo were still using basic pit toilets which are unhygienic and unsafe, with no access to water or facilities that cater to those with disabilities or girls during menstruation. The report also showed that 35% of schools had toilets that were in such poor condition that they needed to be replaced, and 37% of toilets across schools were pit toilets and insufficient for the number of pupils.4% of households in rural communities reported that there was no water to wash their hands after using the toilet.The Department of Water and Sanitation also reported that washing hands and having access to facilities was lowest in Limpopo (57, 8% and 35, 9% respectively) as compared to other provinces such as Western Cape (96, 3% and 83, 9% respectively).
What are the implications of lack of clean water and decent sanitation facilities?
A lack of clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene in schools increases the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and other recurrent sicknesses. This leads to poor health for students and their families – resulting in children missing out on school.The lack of clean water and decent toilets serves as the perfect environment for COVID-19 to thrive, which puts pressure on our health services.
What interventions have been put in place?
In order to mitigate the impact of a lack of clean water and provide solutions to the increasingly urgent need for schools to have these basic human needs for learning and development, Baby Soft® is working together with Water Aid through the Toilets Change Lives initiative. This partnership is focused on providing clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene facilities to ten schools in Limpopo province, South Africa.
The goal is to transform the lives of school children in the Vhembe district of the Limpopo province, South Africa. Key achievements so far include:
Increased access to clean water through the rehabilitation and construction of 19 stand pipes and increased water storage capacity in 5 schools reaching 1,200 pupils and 42 teachers.Increased access to decent toilets through the construction and rehabilitation of 4 toilet blocks in 4 schools, all with female and disability friendly amenities reaching 880 pupils.Increased hygiene standards through the installation of 22 concrete handwashing facilities across 5 schools for both girls and boys reaching a total of 1,200 pupils highlighting good hygiene and handwashing practices in schools.
How can you get involved?
To contribute to this initiative, you can look out for the specially marked pack of Baby Soft® Toilet Paper 18’s in your retail store and help build toilets for school children. R4 from the sale of each pack will be donated to WaterAid. The project aims to build toilets for school children in districts that need it most across South Africa.
In the next three years, Baby Soft and WaterAid will build toilets and improve sanitation access for 8,574 pupils and teachers in 10 schools and over 17,000 people in the surrounding community.
To find out more, visit www.wateraid.org