Toilets for the Girl Child
Globally, waterborne diseases kill more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Waterborne diseases are caused due to the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. It is estimated that annually, about 37.7 million Indians are affected by waterborne diseases. Out of this, 1.5 million children are estimated to die of diarrhoea alone.
The statistics are more alarming at the school level. In India, only 58.82% schools have separate toilets for girls. Some schools have only a single toilet, which is not clean. Single toilets increase the risk of not only disease transmission, but also sexual harassment. Many girls opt to drop out of school due to the lack of proper toilet facilities. It is especially true in the case of adolescent girls who skip school for five to six days every month, during menstruation. This hampers their education and leads them to drop out of school completely. The school completion rates are just 34% for girls, compared to 49% for boys. Proper sanitation facilities in schools are critical for improving the rate of completion of studies at school for the girls.
DA has initiated work on water, sanitation and hygiene in schools, to address these issues. DA has worked in more than 120 schools in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chennai. We have a two-fold approach for solving the problem of sanitation in schools. On one hand, we construct or refurbish the toilet facilities and on the other, we influence behaviour of school children to adopt and maintain these facilities. A behavioural change communication package on WASH has been designed for schools. The package consists of communication tools such as training manuals, mascots, activities and wall messages. All the communication has been designed in a manner that students get trained in schools and take the message forward to the community, for further action.
Till date, more than lakh girls have gained access to toilet facilities in schools, through DA initiatives.