Raleigh Tanzania WASH Project Officer Tino Dickson and Deputy Operations Coordinator Mica Lam joined the Raleigh volunteers in Mkamba village where the atmosphere is palpable. The school grounds are overrun with excited children and school teachers in colourful matching katange, who, despite being on their Easter break, have all remained in village to show support for the opening ceremony of the newly completed sanitation facilities at Juhudi Primary School.
Colorful and meaningful murals brighten the toileting experience
This new infrastructure is comprised of 18 gender-specific latrines, a menstrual hygiene management (MHM) room, two disabled toilets and a hand washing station. The newly painted murals have been designed to reinforce positive hygiene messages. They pop against a backdrop of lush palm trees and the majestic Udzungwa mountains. Today is a special day for both community and volunteers alike.
Boys latrine with disability ramp and toilet in foreground and girls’ latrine with MHM incinerator in background
In the final stages of a Raleigh SWASH project, volunteers organise an opening ceremony where the new sanitation facilities are officially handed over to the community. It is a day of celebration and community empowerment where the direct beneficiaries of the project and Raleigh volunteers come together to celebrate the successes of the project. The opening ceremony isn’t just about the new facilities; it’s also a reminder of the invaluable education taught to the over 800 students of the primary school.
Boys Toilet Block Mural
Over the past 3 weeks, volunteers have introduced the concept of ownership to relevant stakeholders of the project. This means that everybody involved has a shared responsibility to ensure standards are upheld, and there is a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in terms of upkeep, repairs and maintenance. The reason for this is to also create a long-term sustainable venture for generations to come. School children should have clean SWASH facilities that adhere to the Tanzanian Government’s pupil to drop-hole ratio target of 1:56, which will, in turn, encourage continued education from teachers and the after-school SWASH Club. To cement this understanding, Raleigh Tanzania, Mkamba village leaders and the District Education Officer Samwel Mutafya will sign a handover agreement, outlining who will be responsible for maintaining the facilities. It deals with questions such as: what happens if a tap on the hand washing station breaks; who will be responsible for cleaning; and most importantly – who will be held accountable if somebody doesn’t uphold their end of the agreement.
Girls Toilet Block Mural
As a Deputy Operations Coordinator for Expedition SWASH, Mica’s role was to manage and support the teams involved in this project. Invitations were sent for the opening ceremony to Raleigh Tanzania volunteers and staff, government officials from Kidatu Ward and Kilombero District Council, and the official project partners. They all came to pledge their support and dedication to the sustainability of the project. Guest of Honour and Kidatu Division Officer Lutengano Gwalugano Mwambona gave an impassioned speech, to an audience of over 300, in which he thanked the volunteers for their hard work and promised to guarantee the facilities are maintained. New sanitation facilities, alongside improved safe hygiene practices, and knowledge of avoiding waterborne diseases, supports health and well-being of school children (and the rest of the community as a by-product). Improved health means more time spent in school, and in particular for young girls who feel more able to attend school whilst on their periods.
Opening day for new hand washing station
Teachers and students were thankful for the hard work provided by the Raleigh volunteers making for an emotional afternoon. The wonderful partnership between Raleigh Tanzania, Mkamba village and Kilombero District is a testament to what can be achieved through mutual respect and support, and a passion for improving the health and well-being of young people and wider communities in rural Tanzania.
“We are very appreciative of your co-operation and help. This will make our students very happy as our current facilities are very bad and there are not enough toilets. I would like to thank the teams for their leadership, enthusiasm and effort on the project.“
Selestine Martin, member of the School Management Committee
Written by Mica Lam; Photos by Johan Morris