At present there are two buildings at the local middle school, which house a total of thirteen latrines. Fully ten of these latrines are in complete disrepair. One building has completely deteriorated and cannot be entered without risk of injury due to a lack of structural integrity. The other building is in the preliminary stages of falling apart; most students prefer to relieve themselves in the open rather than inside the latrine structure. Additionally there are no proper hand washing stations, leading many students to simply not wash their hands.
Students who do use the single remaining structure that houses some accessible latrines do so while sharing it with both genders. This discourages the girls from using the latrines at all and can lead to school absences during their menstrual cycles as there is little dignity in using the few latrines that are currently "fit" for use. The goal of this project is to improve hygiene and sanitation practices at the local Middle School and to provide more dignity to students and curb future absences related to the current structures by building a dozen brand new latrines. The Middle school will contribute funds, in the form of land for construction, and in cash. Furthermore they will demolish the old structures and salvage materials for further contribution.
The idea for this latrine project came from the students who worked with a previous Peace Corps Volunteer at the local Middle School. Those students identified the latrines as being the biggest problem at their school. The Volunteer approached the former principal about doing a latrine repair project, but due to administrative changes, was not able to find a committed counterpart until the new principal, began in October 2018.
Principal Sall is committed to improving the school grounds and classroom spaces. He has already made changes to the upkeep of the school by adding flower gardens and ensuring that trash is kept to a minimum. He is committed to seeing this latrine project through and ensuring the upkeep of the latrines in the future. The village chief and Principal Sall chose the mason who is hired for this project. At first, a latrine repair project was planned with the previous Volunteer, but upon further reflection by Principal Sall, decided that building a new structure and destroying the current ones was the best course of action. The new location was chosen to take advantage of the existing pit that serves the two structures that will be destroyed.
Currently, there are fewer than five usable latrines for 700 students. Since 2017, the enrollment of the school has increased by 200 students and the school anticipates more in the years to come. The decision to build six latrines per gender was made by the school administration to accommodate future enrollment numbers. On a day-to-day basis, general cleaning and maintenance of the latrines will be undertaken by the custodial staff that the school currently employs.
The volunteer's biggest fears with this project was that the construction materials would be of poor quality. The previous latrines were constructed in such a manner that they became useless after only ten years. In order to prevent this from happening again, the volunteers worked with the community to find the best and most reliable mason available, which was done. The mason the volunteers are using has worked with many NGOs for their latrine projects, and therefore has a good reputation.
For this project the volunteers researched the materials and building techniques used in a nearby town where the latrines are extremely well made and sturdy. Based off of those designs the latrines for this project will have an offset latrine pit that can be emptied, which will allow the latrines to be useful for many years. The latrines will also be equipped with metal doors that will rarely, if ever, need to be replaced thanks to their sturdiness. The Middle School also has maids that come in daily, who will be tasked with keeping the latrines clean and making sure there is always water for the students to use.
In order to keep the latrines clean and free of vandalism, the local principal will give the keys to the school guard, who will keep the latrines open only during school hours or school events. During vacation periods the latrines will be kept completely locked, so as to not function as public restrooms.
The local administration, while unable to bear the full cost of new latrines, does have the funds to pay for a continuous water supply to the faucets, and for small repairs that may emerge over the long term.