South Sudan: Toilets and Hygiene Education Classes at Elementary Schools

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has been carrying out water and hygiene projects in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State since 2006. The following is a report on the construction of a new toilet facility and hygiene education classes held between March 2011 and April 2012.

Hygiene Education Classes Held in 6 Elementary Schools
Water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid fever and cholera have been the major cause of death among children in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State. According to research done by AAR Japan in 2010, only 6.4% of the population and 2% of children used toilets. Most use roadsides and bushes, which leads to the contamination of water sources and the spread of infectious diseases. In response, AAR Japan initiated hygiene education classes in 6 elementary schools for roughly one year beginning in March 2011.

June 28th, 2012 – A sanitary hygiene class held for school teachers in Kapoeta North County. “Which picture is most sanitary?”

Classes were offered to teachers and parents with the expectation that they will pass their knowledge on to children. The methods used were designed to be easy for children to understand, with topics such as “why we use toilets” and “why washing your hands is necessary”, communicated through child-friendly resources such as pictures and dolls. The teachers informed their children of these hygiene methods in school, and our April 2012 surveys showed that approximately 80% of children in the 6 schools acquired accurate knowledge of hygiene techniques. As time goes on we will be able confirm whether that knowledge is leading to actual changes in sanitary habits.
March 5th, 2012 – Walking around the perimeter of the school to check for unsanitary spots. (Lomeyan Elementary School in Kapoeta North County)

March 5th, 2012 – “Is this sanitary?” Teachers who took the sanitary hygiene classes pass their knowledge on to their students. At center back is Naoki UMEDA of AAR Japan. (Lomeyan Elementary School in Kapoeta North County)

March 29th, 2012 – All of the teachers’ students were surveyed in order to determine how well they acquired knowledge of sanitary hygiene techniques. At right is Takeshi IKEDA of AAR Japan. (Mix Elementary School in Kapoeta)

Use and Maintenance of Newly-built Toilet Facilities

3 out of the 6 elementary schools where the sanitary hygiene classes were held had no toilets at all, or the toilets were broken. There were many children who had never used a toilet before at all. AAR Japan built new toilets, and after instruction in their maintenance and use, most of the children have come to use them.
Children’s low resistance to disease puts them at particular risk to diseases spread by poor sanitary conditions. The risk can be reduced through effective education and by putting such knowledge to good use. While long-term habits take time to change, AAR Japan will continue its efforts to improve the sanitary conditions of the people of South Sudan.

March 30th, 2012 – A teacher demonstrates the use of a toilet with walls made of sturdy resin.

*This project has been made possible thanks to a grant from Japan Platform, in addition to generous individual donations.

AAR Japan South Sudan Office: Naoki UMEDA
Has worked in AAR’s South Sudan office since August 2011. After graduating junior college, majored in development studies and African studies at a British university. Joined AAR Japan after working at a private enterprise and doing volunteer work in Uganda.