SATO, an award-winning social business tackling the global sanitation and hygiene challenge, is upgrading toilets in 24 schools across the country over the next one year, to provide a clean, fresh and safe learning environment for over 50,000 children.
The upgrade involves converting the schools’ open pit latrines to closed flushable toilets with a toilet pan. This aims to contribute towards delivering better learning outcomes in Kenya.
The initiative is part of SATO’s Schools Toilet Enhancement Programme (STEP), which targets upgrading toilets in 144 schools across six countries in Africa, where it has a footprint. The initiative targets reaching over 7.2 million children across the continent.
According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, Africa lags behind global progress in providing water and sanitation in schools. In Kenya, only half of the schools have basic sanitation facilities with 84 per cent of rural schools without hygiene facilities.
As part of the STEP initiative, SATO has upgraded toilets at Lea Mathare Learning Center, which caters for 100 children from Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi County. The completed toilets were handed over to the school community at the end of the week.
“Besides providing a good learning environment, our innovative and affordable solutions will also enhance the school’s sanitation facilities. Sanitation is the foundation of good health and we need to make deliberate efforts to make this a reality,” said Samuel Langat, Africa Lead for SATO during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Lea Mathare Learning Center,
Mr Langat explained that STEP takes a holistic approach that not only involves upgrading the toilets in the school and fitting them with SATO solutions, but also benefits the community surrounding the school. The toilets are fitted with SATO’s innovative trap doors that minimise odors and keep flies and other insects away. They also require 80 per cent less water to flush, compared to traditional toilets.
“These new toilets have greatly improved the children’s learning experience. Previously, we only had one latrine and pupils often had to queue to use it. Now they have more toilets to use and we also have running water,” said Reagan Waithaka, the founder and director of Lea Mathare Learning Center.
SATO’s Kenya Country Head, Alex Njagi said that besides upgrading the toilets at the school, each of the pupils was also given a SATO Tap, an innovative handwashing station for use at home. Old PET bottles serve as water reservoirs for the handwashing facilities, thus avoiding waste.
Mr Njagi added: “We are committed to improve the sanitation situation in our learning facilities and are in the process of identifying the schools to enroll into the programme. This is in line with our mission to empower communities around the world who lack access to water and sewerage facilities. We welcome partners from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to collaborate with in upgrading even more schools’ toilets”.