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Evaluation on good practices in Ecosan schools in Western Kenya

Posted by Carola Israel according to information provided by Moses Wakala Ecosan Expert from Kenya (wakala.gtz@gmail.com). (02 February 2012)

The purpose of the contract was to select at least five schools that have Ecosan toilets. The schools must be using the facilities and the products in some way. The consultant was also to move around visiting the school with the Finnish Master student who was doing her field work in Ecological sanitation. A number of schools were selected in Western region that were presumed to be doing well. Some of the selected schools were privately funded while others were funded by GIZ, SIDA and EU in the ended Ecosan Promotion Project.
The consultant has gone ahead to identify new players in the field of ecological sanitation and documentation of good practices amongst all the visited sites. He has gone ahead to establish basic reasons why some schools begin well during the first use of the ecosan toilets and later on dump the whole idea of ecological sanitation to use of pit latrines. A number of reasons have been outlined in the report.

School selection
The consultant, being much aware of the task given, begun with the formulation of selection criteria to be used to find the site to be visited. This was done through physical site pre-visits and direct phone conversations to establish their availability for the interview and the status of the facilities to be visited. Some schools were however visited without prior notice due to schools closure and lack of contacts.
Actual work of monitoring was done together with the student by physical examination of the facilities and through interviews with filling of the already prepared questionnaire.

Upgrading of skills learned
During the site visits, the consultant observed how the beneficiary community was utilising the facilities. A number of gaps were identified in the usage and as a result, the consultant planned for refresher trainings on operation and maintenance. This was sometimes done instantly on the same day of visit, or was planned later.
The following schools were visited during the consultancy period:
1. Kakichuma R.C primary school GIZ funded ecosan toilets
2. Kitale Ndogo Primary school GIZ funded
3. Mumias Muslim Primary School GIZ Funded
4. Khaimba Primary School GIZ Funded
5. Eldoret Education Centre Private ownership
6. Chief Mutsembi Primary school Private
7. Hirumbi Primary School.

Kakichuma Primary School
This school is located in a rocky surrounding. The head-teacher who received the project funded by GIZ is still present. He is well motivated and this has been transferred to the whole school. Most of the pit latrines were shallow and could get filled up easily. They are now happy because they get urine fertilizer for their young tree seedlings planted around the compound. They are using the urine fertilizer on bananas within the school compound. The toilet is well maintained with no smell nor flies. This is their motivation.
Most of the ash is from the school kitchen. At times they send some pupils to bring ash from home. The whole sanitation is done by the health club, teacher on duty and the sanitation teacher. The school has done some repairs and painting of the toilets using the Repair and maintenance kitty from the government. Their biggest challenge is getting water for hand wash during the dry season.

Health Club members infront of the school ecosan toilet in Kakichuma Primary

The researcher with the head teacher, sanitation teacher and pupils in an interview
Mumias Muslim Primary school
The school is located in Mumias town with Muslims as major population. Two Ecosan toilets are used by teachers while two others used by the boys. The girls don’t have access to Ecosan toilets in this school.
The school has been using the urine on the school farm and it has produced good results as from the Head-teacher. The school’s main reason for doing well in hygiene is due to regular organised meetings by the sanitation teacher who also conducts trainings to new pupils at the beginning of every term. They have a constant supply of ash from the school kitchen and pupils bring the commodity once in a while when demand is high. We visited the school when it had just opened and many sections were not yet cleaned. The consultant found the toilet in use and some boys preferred Ecosan toilet to normal pit latrine due to its lack of smell.
It was also observed that the school had dug some pits to construct ordinary pit latrine because there was no squatting pan available and the ones available in the market are too expensive to purchase.

Front side of the staff toilet in Mumias Muslim Primary school.

Khaimba Primary school
This was the first school ever to be funded by GIZ in Ecosan toilet construction. The initial training on construction, usage and maintenance was done in this school by the Ecosan team in Kenya. The school has been doing so well in managing the toilets. This was brought about by the initial motivation of getting a resource from human waste which was otherwise useless from cultural beliefs. The pupils like using the toilets because of their odourless and safety.
The current status is slowly deteriorating due to new teachers coming who seems to have little knowledge on Ecosan toilets and as such little motivation to the pupils.

Inside the toilet in Khaimba Primary school showing ash, squatting pan and finished toilet paper.

Handwash facility at Khaimba Primary school

Kitale Ndogo Primary School
The consultant visited the school when it had just closed for December holiday. The school is located in a swampy area and during dry periods, it has high water table. This can be explicitly shown by the collapsing pit latrines. GIZ funded the construction of 4 units for pupils and the school has also sourced for funding from Regional development fund CDF, to construct additional four units. It was observed that the school has got general management problems that need to be addressed urgently. The consultant did the initial training to the school stakeholders and they begun well using the facilities. Blockages and general misuse is noticed in the Ecosan toilets in this school. But this may not seem an issue to the school as even the pit latrines are in a mess. The consultant has booked to address sanitation issues in school during the new semester.

Four Ecosan toilets funded by GIZ in Kitale Ndogo Primary
Inside the toilet at Kitale ndogo with blocked urine pipe due to ash spillage.

Eldoret Education Complex
The school is located in Eldoret town with a population of over 200 pupils and 20 workers. The only sanitation option in school is 4 Ecosan toilets and boys urinal. The school is funded from a church organization in Kenya. They learnt of this technology through the internet and then made contacts with the consultant for construction and user training. The school is enjoying to use the facilities and also doing more construction of similar toilets as the school is expanding. The toilets are cleaned by a trained caretaker employed by the school. She is responsible for daily cleaning, ash addition, removal of filled up urine containers and replacing toilet papers. She is the one who advices other grounds people on urine usage in the farm.
The first chambers of all the toilets are now full. Second chambers are being used at the moment. The school is using the urine in the vegetable farm mixed together with irrigation water. Many changes as a result of using the products can be seen in the school including health live fence and flowers fed by urine fertilizer. Many people have visited this school to learn about the technology.

Pupils in EEC visiting their Ecosan toilet with Hand-wash infront.
Inside of the toilet in EEC with ash container and instruction chart.
Urine store constructed by the school with urine containers. Urine is kept here for two weeks before it is used in farm for irrigation. Filled up Jericans are labelled when they are put in the store.
The consultant sampling the decomposed faecal matter to see its quality
Urine being mixed with irrigation water to be used in vegetable farm as fertilizer in drip irrigation.
Hirumbi Primary School
This school is located in the outskirts of Kakamega town. The school has just gotten funding from an organisation based in Austria for construction of Ecosan toilets. The main purpose of the visit ton the school was capacity building and making the school the hub of Ecosan technology in the area. The school planned for O & M training on this day with all the stakeholders invited. The Ministry of education emphasized on the need to follow instruction for anything to work well.
Topics covered were among others, use, maintenance, reuse of urine and decomposed faecal matter, advantages of Ecosan toilet and general hygiene like hand washing.
One of the Ecosan experts in Training at Hirumbi Primary school.

General Challenges for each school
The following were observed as general challenges in most of the Ecosan schools visited.
Regular blockage of the urine pipes by ash. Pressure on the existing few facilities as GIZ was only funding 4 doors. Lack of constant training in schools to the users leading to misuse. The squatting pans are not easily available for further construction.

  • Regular blockage of the urine pipes by ash.
  • Pressure on the existing few facilities as GIZ was only funding 4 doors.
  • Lack of constant training in schools to the users leading to misuse.
  • The squatting pans are not easily available for further construction.
A number of schools are now looking for different funding from different organization to construct their own toilets.
This was seen in Western Kenya in Kakamega where two three primary schools are now having the Ecosan toilets funded by other organization like CDF etc.
This was witnessed in three schools around Kakamega where the schools are soliciting funds from other sources to construct Ecosan toilets. Many private schools are currently making inquiry on how to have similar facilities. This means that many people in the community are now understanding the
economic importance of the technology. The cost of an Ecosan toilet has not been an excuse in the society looking at the long term benefits of Ecosan toilets. A simple pit latrine costs half the price of one Ecosan toilet in the surrounding.

School sanitation and public place sanitation is a big challenge to the community. This has been as a result of negligence and attitude from the users. Many people have good toilets at their homes but most public toilets are left un attended to all the times. This has been the case for so many years in the region. In schools, sanitation condition has always been depended on the school priorities. For example when the school administration values hygiene, then the school toilets will be well maintained. Ecosan toilets have been said to be difficult to maintain in public schools especially where small kids are using the facilities. This is as a result of constant blockages of urine pipes with ash. Good Ecosan working schools have put a caretaker to be in charge of the facilities. This person is responsible for day to day maintenance of the toilets at a fee. Public Ecosanitation is therefore only possible when there is somebody in charge. The same caretaker is in charge of regular training of the users on proper usage.

The school routine should emphasize on good hygiene in the school. This topic of sanitation has been put on some well performing Ecosan schools as a lesson taught every week in classes. This is a constant reminder to the pupils of proper toilet usage and care. It has also been extended to the environmental/ Sanitation/ Health clubs which also offers similar topics in their meetings.

Some schools had a good start-up in Ecosan toilet use and good practices were late noticed after some tome. This was noted in the region as some schools expected to be doing well had deteriorated to poor hygiene standards. It was observed that it was due to change of the responsible teachers who received the projects. The new teachers may not be well motivated about the project and or at times with poor knowledge on the O & M in Ecosan facilities.

Future GIZ intervention should major most in trainings and capacity building. This should be done together will all the stakeholders so that there is no time there is technology vacuum in the schools or community. The
education ministry can also promote this type of sanitation in all the schools that needs it. This may include flooding regions, rocky areas, unstable soil area and areas with high water table or limited space for toilet construction. This has been done in some private schools that are rushing now to acquire the plastic squatting pan. GIZ will come in handy to try and avil this squatting pan in large supply. At the moment, it is the only challenge among the schools that are turning to Ecosan.

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