Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

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  • WIN
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Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Dirty and locked toilets are leaving students behind.
We think poor integrity is contributing to the situation.
Would you agree? Do you perhaps have examples or cases to share of corruption or poor practices in terms of transparency and accountability that we could learn from?

We've been working on supporting WASH in schools programmes by facilitating integrity assessments of school WASH in schools in India and Bangladesh. Our experience and research suggests this is a useful way to:
- get a fresh perspective on the complex issues at hand, going beyond just facilities, money, or behaviour
- get different stakeholders at the table and develop an understanding of the issues in schools to also build momentum and concrete plans for collective action

Here is some more information on our own ongoing programme with DORP and BAWIN:
www.waterintegritynetwork.net/2019/08/21...ool-wash-bangladesh/
www.waterintegritynetwork.net/2019/12/09...dents-in-bangladesh/

We look forward to hearing more views and ideas on how to address these issues!
Water Integrity Network
www.waterintegritynetwork.net
@WaterIntegrityN

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  • JacquesPiP
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Hi,

Check the following reports:
- WaterAid school WASH Research India Country Report: https://washmatters.wateraid.org/sites/g/files/jkxoof256/files/WaterAid%20school%20WASH%20research%20report%20India.pdf
- WaterAid school WASH research report Bangladesh https://washmatters.wateraid.org/sites/g/files/jkxoof256/files/WaterAid%20school%20WASH%20research%20report%20Bangladesh.pdf

The recommendations on the India report seem particularly relevant to your question.
Hope this helps !

best wishes

Jacques
Jacques-Edouard Tiberghien, MSc. PhD.
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Dear WIN team (Claire?),

Thanks for your post. Could you explain to the layperson what you meant with this statement?:
"We think poor integrity is contributing to the situation."

Is poor integrity equal to corruption which is supported by low levels of accountability and transparency? And whose integrity are we referring to, is it the integrity of the school headmaster, the government department, the janitor at the school, the teachers? Which of those is most likely to contribute to poor school toilets?
This topic is new to me so I am eager to learn.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(under consultancy contract with Skat Foundation funded by WSSCC)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • stephenmichael7436
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Good evening sir/ma. At this point integrity is needed in every aspect. The government has a role to play because when there's poor policy it will affect the implementation by the school management. The school management has their own role to play because when government bring policy and the management most especially the head fail to follow the government policy. Instead they can just use few of the fund and share the remaining one instead of using the fund to execute the proposed project.
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  • Masango
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Dear Win, I do agree with you that we have dirty and locked toilets in some schools and also that its a complex issue that requires attention and diagnoses. What I do not agree with, is you thinking that we can go beyond, facilities, money and behavior to find solutions. Actually I think the problem is greatly linked to this element you just listed. Maybe what we should be doing instead is looking at how they come into play in relation to locked and dirty toilets. From my experience, good behavior is expected both from the school administration and the students or pupils. Have toilets is not enough, assigning a cleaner is an essential component which goes along with using the toilets responsibly. Facilities will come into play where you have a school population that exceeds toilet space available and even the convenience of use when it comes to the technology and comfort. Money to me is the greatest factor as I think It will determine the types of facilities and even the behavior of school administration and even students to an extent.
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  • Bibian
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

From my experience on WASH in schools, WASH facilities should be integrated in the planning and building of schools with emphasis of the girls and people with special needs considered. Getting cleaners to maintain the facilities will not be a bad idea but involving the pupils/ students in the maintenance through formation of Environmental health clubs, WASH activists etc in school will be more sustainable and produce more desirable results. Also when teachers are trained and involve in the schools' water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, the result is always better than when they are not involved. So involving teachers is key. Above all, bringing in the community especially in rural communities where the schools are located is key as it helps to promote their buy- in to supporting the school WASH facility maintenance.
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  • WIN
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Dear Elisabeth, dear all, Thanks a lot for your questions and clarifications.

What we mean by integrity generally is a situation where there is honest, transparent, accountable, and participatory decision-making aiming for sustainable and equitable service. It's a bit of a wide definition but all the elements are important because they are also levers for action and improvement

We feel as you suggest, that poor integrity is in large part corruption. Low accountability and low participation are important risk factors for corruption. It's not always so easy to clearly identify acts of corruption and sometimes a range of issues are happening at the same time, especially in contexts where corruption is very widespread. It can be a bit of a grey zone. We try to focus on possibilities for improvement and not on pointing fingers.

We look at integrity across the board for different stakeholders. Bibian, Masango, and stephenmichael 7436 have already pointed out different ways in which different actors are either not fulfilling their responsibilities fully or should be involved more.

I'm assuming the situation can vary greatly depending on the context. We've seen situations where corruption and poor integrity at government levels means funding is not allocated according to need but according to personal interests. This might mean less funding for schools. We've also seen examples where the money meant for WASH facilities in schools is used by a school administration for other purposes. There are many places where teachers, parents and communities are not fully aware of the state of facilities in schools, and many places where students, those affected most by the poor state of facilities, have no space to voice their concerns.

For now it's hard for us to say who contributes most to a situation of poor integrity or what the total impact of corruption is in the case of WASH in schools. That's why we're also eager to hear more about other experiences in other contexts.

Thanks!
Water Integrity Network
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@WaterIntegrityN
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  • Masango
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Dear Win, now I think you have given us a clearer picture of what you expect from us here. I will therefore base my contribution on our experience on the ground here in Cameroon. It's really difficult not to point fingers like you say, but I will do my best. In our situation, there is first of all the lack of interest by school administration to adhere to WASH standards. To me, this lack of interest is either due to inadequate levels of awareness or lack of conviction or determination. Under such circumstances, you will see schools that have toilets just because it is ethical or prescribed by government regulations to have toilets in schools but there is little or no effort by the school to make sure the toilets serve their right purposes. Yes, we have seen schools where toilets are almost unusable. In the same line, toilet facilities here are almost never enough or commensurate to the school's population and finally, thee are always separate toilets for students and staff and you will see visually that the difference between them is clear. To address the above I think lots of awareness is needed accompanies with policy adjustment or tightening.
A second experience is where there is not enough education/awareness among the student/pupils on WASH issues and the use of toilets. It is really very important that we make our children to see and understand the link between the toilets, hygiene and their health/welbeing. Where this link is lacking, you are sure to find students who misuse toilets, those who don't adhere to basic sanitation principles and general neglect. Finally, maybe if WASH activities are not concentrated only in school but followed up in the community, there would be more coherence in the children's behaviour as we have seen situations where it is like the children are living in two worlds at the same time. At school, they practice something else and go back to homes and communities where almost the opposite of what they are done is practiced. As a conclusion, maybe linking WASH issues to civic responsibilities, awareness, appealing to consciences at individual and policy levels could yield better results.
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  • Esther
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

I read Dr. Elisabeth feed back on this subject with interest and thank her for expanding this subject to raise the other concern of 'corruption which is supported by low levels of accountability and transparency' . I too look forward to read outcomes of this discussion since this is new to our experience and present WaSH project in Goroka District, Papua New Guinea since June 31st, 2019
Esther
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  • AKSantaCruz
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Hi everyone,

I've been working in the Karamoja region, in Uganda with Welthungerhilfe to introduce Container-based sanitation (CBS) approaches at several schools. Our NGO is a skills training organization. After a two-year pilot project, we're in the .process of scaling up with the goal of introducing compost toilets at over a dozen large schools -- one school has over 1,000 students.

In this region, pit latrines are very difficult to build and maintain due to sandy soils and seasonal flooding. There are no service providers to empty the latrines when they become full, and no facilities to process fecal sludge. In November, I observed two pit latrines in one of the teachers' quarters that were full to the top and overflowing (during the rainy season). The teachers were extremely upset to be living in such terrible conditions. At each school we visited (over 10 schools with over 6,000 enrolled children), there were multiple abandoned pit latrine blocks in various states of disrepair that smelled to high heaven. Sadly, this is the norm in all rural areas across East Africa. I simply don't know how girls can manage their menstrual cycles inside pit latrines under these filthy conditions, or how they can live with this indignity every single day. So, we might start questioning why we even bother to keep the "S" in WASH. We're really failing here.

Fecal sludge is not being managed, and never has been. It's a huge burden to build new pit latrines when they will fill to capacity in just a few years. I don't think we're talking about this problem realistically. Perhaps this is what the comments about integrity are trying to get at. Governments are failing, but the NGOs that are trying to fill the need gaps are also perpetuating problematic solutions.

After much debate — the schools in the pilot program and the implementing partner (Welthungerhilfe) finally decided to have the students participate in cleaning and managing the compost toilet system. The local government supports the program. Our organization pushed back on this decision and urged the schools to hire cleaners and compost managers, but in the end, we were in no position to make unrealistic demands. The schools can't afford to hire cleaners, and they already struggle to afford basic cleaning supplies and soap for hand washing. But, all of the schools have very active and enthusiastic WASH clubs.

We've spent several months working with and training the WASH clubs. Many girls have volunteered to do the cleaning on a shared and rotational basis. The girls told us that they are wiling (and happy) to take care of the compost toilets because they love them. Many of the girls attending the large boarding schools told us that they would typically undress before using the latrines because their clothing would smell all day long like feces. We're also just starting to compost sanitary pads. Just try to imagine a school with 500 girls and calculate the number of pads per month that need to be disposed of. The schools try to incinerate the maggot-infested pads in giant pits but the pads do not burn. It's a disgusting mess and there are no easy solutions. I have no words to describe what I've been seeing.

I will be sharing a case study of this project in the near future, and I will also be in Kampala for the conference and SuSanA meeting. If anyone would like to see visit our community-based composting project in Kyebando slum, please send me a message.
Program Director, GiveLove.org — EcoSan Training Program
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  • WIN
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences!

Masango, your view on the need to raise awareness is very important. In our experience, awareness is a big issue very often. We held workshops in Bangladesh schools on WASH involving parents and school administrators and they had no idea what state the toilets were in.

At the same time, as shown in your post AKSantaCruz there seem to be deeper issues related to planning of solutions.

Are special interests influencing and distorting the decisions on what kind of systems should be developed and where? Are these interests diverting much-needed funding and attention to other areas of service provision or other issues? Can we do something about it?

Involving students has been an important element of success to get started or for action to be taken. School student WASH committees play a key role in ensuring no one is left behind and the voices of those affected is heard. However, is there indeed a more systematic approach that should be taken?

Thanks again for sharing your views!

Claire (WIN)
Water Integrity Network
www.waterintegritynetwork.net
@WaterIntegrityN
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  • CharlotteM
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Re: Using integrity as a means to push for action on WASH in schools

Dear Alisa,

Thank you for your post. Quite interesting about the use of compost toilets in schools. Just a few questions to better understand how your project is interacting with the community.

Would you be kind to elaborate:
- How you are tackling the issue of toilet to student ratio? From your post, the school population is quite large.
- Are you fully funding the construction of the toilets?
- What is the method of cleaning that the students are using?
- To ensure that the waste is dry, are you using any drying agents?

You have mentioned that: “…After much debate — the schools in the pilot program and the implementing partner (Welthungerhilfe) finally decided to have the students participate in cleaning and managing the compost toilet system. The local government supports the program.” Which means of support is the local government offering?

How would you then anchor integrity? Would it be on the better sanitation provided or the school family (parents, teachers, students) understanding that they need better sanitation and they are accountable for it?

Looking forward to your response.

Regards
Charlotte


Charlotte Mong'ina Maua
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