Not only do schools in the impoverished region of Limpopo, South Africa suffer from lack of access to fresh water, but sanitation is also a major issue. It is so dire, in fact, that there are 913 schools with no sanitation facilities and another 11,450 schools still use unhygienic pit latrine toilets. This alone creates unhealthy conditions for the students. Combined with lack of water -which leaves children unable to wash their hands – it drastically increases the spread of disease.
From Section 27, a public interest group that aims to use the law to advance human rights in South Africa:
About 80% of schools in the Limpopo province use basic pit toilets. The health risks from using them are huge. A lot of these pits are full, so they attract animals like snakes and maggots. If the pits are too full for the schoolchildren to use, they relieve themselves in the bushes. Often, the teachers have to as well. It’s not just about education: it’s also about privacy, dignity and health. A lot of the toilets don’t have doors, ventilation, seats, or even a place for toilet paper. That means a lot of the schoolchildren are using newspaper or rocks instead. There’s no space for them to wash their hands. We also see a high degree of student absenteeism. We’ve collected testimonies from students who said they’d stayed home because of the toilets. This is a big problem with female teenagers, who have to stay home when they have their periods. In the rainy season, we often get complaints that the pit toilets have collapsed because the foundations on which they are built fall apart. In 2013 we got complaints from four schools that their toilets had collapsed. Thankfully, at the time there was no one inside.
In addition to these basic health hazards, children are also at risk of falling in and drowning. These sanitation and hygiene issues are of great concern to A Spring of Hope, and that is why we decided to address installing Enviro-Loos at some of our partner schools that are seriously lacking in infrastructure. The Enviro-Loo is an environmentally friendly, self-contained, waterless, dry-sanitation toilet system that does not treat the waste with chemicals. It uses a forced aeration ventilation system and there is no odor or seepage of waste into the ground.
Enviro-Loo Features (from the Enviro-Loo website):