An Assessment of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Infrastructure in Secondary Schools in Kabale Municipality, South-Western Uganda
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Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene conditions have been reported to reduce educational outcomes in children by contributing to absenteeism. The quality of sanitation facilities in schools can impact attendance rates of girls, especially once they have attained puberty. Reports show that girls miss a total of 48 days in an academic year due to menstruation related challenges, hence poor Menstrual Hygiene Management in schools always leads to absenteeism and drop out. Improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in schools is linked to multiple benefits which include; increased enrollment and a higher number of students passing exams among others. This study assessed the level of adequacy and utilization of water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure in secondary schools in Kabale Municipality to provide insights on how it impacts on educational outcomes. The study addressed four specific objectives; namely: examining the different kinds of WASH infrastructure present in secondary schools; assessing the utilization of WASH in Kabale Municipality; assessing the level of students’ awareness of the consequences of poor WASH infrastructure; lastly comparing WASH infrastructures between public and private schools as per the recommended national standards. A Cross sectional survey design was used in the study. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods. 17 Private schools and 5 public secondary schools were studied. 22 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) comprising 9 to 12 students were held to collect data on Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) from students while Key Informant Interviews were used to get information on Health Hygiene Education (HHE),reasons for not meeting standards, school inspection and perceptions on the effect of poor WASH facilities to students’ performance from decision makers and implementers of WASH such as Municipal Education Officer (MEO), Municipal Health Inspector, Directors of schools and head teachers. Documents like water bills from National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), reports and Education statistical abstracts were reviewed to collect data on water consumption, number of schools, recommended WASH infrastructure and practices and other information relating to the study. Data collected was analyzed using computer packages like SPSS 20.0 and Excel to get frequencies, percentages, and mean. It was presented in form of figures, tables and plates for easy interpretation. Results from the study do not show a big variance between WASH situation within public and private secondary schools. About 94% of private schools and 100% of public schools had a water system at school. The per capita consumption of 0.38 liters in public schools and 0.56 liters of water in private schools is below the national standard of 5 liters for day student and 20 liters for boarding. About 59% of the public schools and 80% of private schools provide hand washing facilities, .The ratio of hand washing was1 facility to 112 students in private schools and 1 to 87student for public schools. The Student to toilet stance ratio was 1:90 for private schools and 1:67 for public schools. Majority of the students in both private and public schools were fully aware of the dangers of not washing hands although this did not translate into actual practice. These findings imply that whereas most schools have a water system within the school premises, WASH infrastructure in both private and public schools in Kabale Municipality is poor, inadequate and below national set standards. In public schools, the government and implementing partners need to provide more resources for construction of toilets and provision of hand washing stations, there should also be increased Health Hygiene Education(HHE) in the schools to improve practice and usage of the facilities. Students should be encouraged to join sanitation clubs where they can learn how to use WASH facilities while teachers should be encouraged to include WASH in their lesson plans. In private Schools, the proprietors of the schools need to partner with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and other companies to construct toilets, hand washing stations and conducting health hygiene education. Ministry of Education, Municipal Education Office and Municipal Health office should provide guidance and supervision to ensure that Schools meet the standards Key Words: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, Infrastructure, Standards, School, Hand washing, Adequacy, Utilization.