While to some having a toilet or a sink may seem simple and not a major health priority, the reality is that more than 40% of the rural population in the communities that Pueblo a Pueblo serves do not have access to water in their homes. Providing a local school with access to water and sanitation services can protect students from potentially fatal diseases and opportunities to learn about healthy hygiene and sanitation practices.
Pueblo a Pueblo’s WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in Schools project works with school directors, teachers, students and parents to construct gender segregated sanitation facilities and hand washing stations to promote health and hygiene education.
In 2014, Pueblo a Pueblo established a partnership with a local school, Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta K’ak’ak’ K’aslen, in the town of Nueva Vida to develop the plans to improve school community health. In early August, Pueblo a Pueblo inaugurated five new sanitary services (bathrooms) in the school including, 5 toilets, 1 urinal and 1 sink with 4 faucets. This made for many happy kids and teachers!
The WASH Project Coordinator, Tomás, asserts that “the new facilities will contribute to the betterment of the children’s health because they will no longer be exposed to contagious diseases because of unsanitary conditions.”
Pueblo a Pueblo’s WASH Student Ambassadors help to bridge the gap in services and understanding by designating students to be leaders in their school to help educate others about the importance of hygiene and sanitation. The WASH project has also helped coordinate the creation of a support group made up of local teachers, the school director, parents volunteers and the designated WASH Student Ambassador, to ensure a collective effort is in place to mediate any immediate or future challenges.
“With the appropriate use of the new facilities and the direct support from the students and teachers, this will be another means of improving student’s academic success.”
Thinking ahead, it is envisioned that 100% of students in the school will utilize the new facilities and learn the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene.
“Pueblo a Pueblo has now done all the steps needed. We will do occasional follow-ups, but now we want the teachers, students and community to become the main actors to look out for the hygiene of the students at the school.”