Building a clean place to learn for 14,000 schoolchildren

More than 60,000 people live in Mutunda sub-county in western Uganda, with about 14,000 children attending 18 primary schools.

As the population increases, Mutunda’s schools grow increasingly overcrowded,  with too few teachers, too few classrooms, too few desks, and too few toilets. These challenges are so palpable, it is easy to miss that — until recently — there was virtually no opportunity for a child to wash their hands with soap.

Across 18 schools, 14,000 children go to the bathroom, play in the dirt, and eat food. As of a few months ago,  only one school had even a single tap with water and soap. As a result, 14,000 children returned home each day with bacteria on their hands and in their bodies. Diarrheal disease, respiratory infections, and “sick days” have been all too common.

At the same time, Mutunda’s next generation of leaders are building the habits and beliefs that they will carry with them into adulthood. Today, handwashing with soap can keep a child in class. Tomorrow, it could save the life of their child.

With handwashing facilities present in only 5-10% of homes in rural Uganda, the 14,000 children in Mutunda’s school have the potential to meaningfully change the hygiene norms and practices of a sub-county of 60,000.

In service of this goal, this year The Water Trust partnered with every school in Mutunda to ensure that every child attends a school with clean water, separate bathrooms for girls and boys, and handwashing facilities.

Beyond investing in infrastructure, our team is training teachers on how to “nudge” children to build new habits, and coaching school leaders on how to financially plan for supplies and maintenance to sustain the infrastructure into the future.

Children at Ogunga Primary School enjoy a newly-installed handwashing facility.

 

In the months to come, we look forward to sharing with you our successes, our setbacks, and the stories that inspire us from Mutunda.

This project is made possible with the support of Vibrant Village Foundation, Slattery Family Foundation, and supporters like you.

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