We all know how important pens and books are in schools. But less well known is how important water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities are too. Schoolgirls in particular find it difficult to stay in school if there is a lack of clean, safe toilets. Without these basic facilities, the gender ratio of school-going children will never be balanced.
In Nepal, girls are treated differently to boys from early childhood, due to social and cultural beliefs. As a result, they tend to be shy, and find it hard to use mixed toilets. Mixed toilets often lack the necessary facilities for menstural hygiene management, leaving them nowhere to clean or dispose of their sanitary pads. As a result, many girls miss school or drop out completely, affecting their academic performance and limiting their options as adults. (more…)
Why care whether all Nepalis have access to toilets or not?
From experience, we have learnt that not doing something about ensuring toilet access is likely to lead to people’s deaths, especially those of poor women and children. For evidence, consider what happened in the hills of Doti district in far western Nepal only this past summer.
On the 1st of June, an outbreak of diarrhea was reported in Baglek VDC in Doti. Affected people started visiting the local sub-health post. In a matter of days, it was clear that the diarrheal outbreak was not confined only to Baglek. Patients from adjacent clusters of villages started streaming into the overwhelmed health post, which had neither adequate beds nor enough nurses.
By the time the health post reported 116 cases, including three deaths, to the district health officers, the diarrheal disease had spread to 10 surrounding VDCs and to Dipayal and Silguri, the two towns that lie on the hilly highway. It was clear that what Doti faced was not an ordinary diarrheal ailment that would run its course and die out. (more…)
In a major exhibition held by WaterAid in Nepal, ten Nepalese artists will examine the effect of menstruation and menstrual hygiene on women’s health, girl’s education and gender equality.
The installation and visual performance, Dropping in on development, will be held on Thursday 29 September, 6pm at Hotel Himalaya, Kupondole, Lalitpur, Nepal. A live stream of the exhibition will be available to watch via the website (see below), Facebook and Ustream (6pm NPT/12.15pm BST).
WaterAid in Nepal marked the launch of its school sanitation campaign, with the opening of a photo exhibition, School Sanitation: The Neglected Development Link. The exhibition features striking images by press photographers in Nepal, illustrating the effect of sanitation on the lives of school children across Kathmandu valley. It is inagurated by four years old Bunu Nepal at 3pm on 11 August at the Nepal Art Council, Babarmahal, Kathmandu.
According to Nepal government policy, schools must ensure one toilet for every 50 students. However WaterAid’s analysis shows that the average school toilet serves 127 students, nearly three times as many as the government recommends. Of Nepal’s 28,000 community schools, only 18,000 have toilets – with only 5580 providing separate toilets for girls.
Every year in Nepal, 10,500 children under the age of five die due to sanitation and drinking water related diseases – more than half of which are girls. Every month teenage girls risk missing several days of class during their menstrual period or, worse, dropping out of school altogether because of a lack of toilet facilities, further entrenching the barriers caused by gender inequality. It is estimated that nearly two million female students have no access to toilets in school.
WaterAid called on immediate action to be taken to provide separate toilets for girls and boys in schools which are also accessible for disabled students and include facilities to enable girls to hygienically manage their menstruation.
WaterAid with support from SHARE, a research consortium, brought together 16 practitioners and researchers with expertise in water, sanitation and health (WASH). The purpose of the roundtable was to assess the state MHM, address various policies and practice and lastly to build a community of practiced individuals and institutions passionate about MHM and who want to share, work, influence and respond to the practical challenges faced by women and girls.
On the first day participants reviewed their knowledge of MHM, understood the issues linked to MHM and learnt key policies in Asia region. They also learnt from experiences and initiatives from countries like Bangladesh, India and Tanzania. It was also concluded that MHM is a big issue for women, one which lacks awareness among both men and women. They also found out that patriarchal culture and tradition determine how MHM is addressed in different communities. While there are evidences of good MHM practice there are no user satisfaction surveys. Sufficient research on the issue has not been done.
The second day, participants designed research methodology to assess the advantages-disadvantages of different methodological research approaches and developed it to combine quantitative and qualitative learning. They also discussed on the length of the study and if a longitudinal study would be helpful. It was discussed that a balance was needed among the qualitative and quantitative evidence. From this discussion it was suggested that the existing literature be synthesized and clear MHM related indicators be developed to monitor implementation and effectiveness. They also suggested that it would be important to understand the risks of current MHM practices and understand the impact of improved MHM.
Lastly they agreed on keeping in touch as a group in order to articulate the issue and make it a priority among advocacy workers. They will also remain in contact in order to build a community that practices MHM and support research initiatives.
The post is written by Ms Therese Mahon, Regional Programme Officer - Asia, WaterAid in UK.