On Wednesday, June 19th, Patrick Ojok of Gulu Disabled Persons Union (GDPU) and I, representing The Advocacy Project, made our first visit to Abaka Primary School to assess the conditions of the latrine and stances constructed by the local government. After meeting with the District Officer of Education earlier in the week, we were led to believe that a workable, drainable latrine was constructed in accordance with the Ugandan Health and Safety Guidelines. To our dismay the latrine was not up to par and was actually condemned by the District Engineer. As you can see from the photo below, there is a sinkhole present on the east side making it unacceptable for use by children. Seems that there was shoddy sub-construction on the structure, with no support rings built into the latrine. This allowed for the weight of the top of structure, bricks, cement, and all to bear down on the latrine, and thus a sinkhole was created. As with any project anywhere, there are setbacks and uplifts to be encountered and one must take them all with a ‘grain of salt’.
The contractor hired by GDPU, David, agreed after examining the sinkhole and structural integrity that condemnation of the latrine was the correct call by the District Engineer. The Director of Education will be approached with this matter for analyzation, so that the next steps can be determined. GDPU and The Advocacy Project, with me serving as consultant, will recommend dismantling or sealing off of the latrine to ensure children do not injure themselves. In accordance with Ugandan Health and Safety Guidelines, there cannot be a condemned latrine within proximity of a functional latrine, which makes logical sense.
Joseph, the Head Teacher, in agreement with Patrick and I, have called a meeting on Monday the 24th with the parents of Abaka Primary School to discuss the proper location of a new latrine, whether it will be a boys or girls latrine, and the distance and orientation of the walkway from the school to the latrine. There were sixty-four parents in attendance at the last meeting conducted by Joseph, and we expect a similar turnout. If we all are in accordance with the construction guidelines, the work of digging the initial sinkhole will begin on that Wednesday with a goal of completion on Friday.
This initial obstacle gives GDPU and The Advocacy Project the opportunity to demonstrate the workability and sustainability of our combined model for proper latrine construction in accordance with guidelines set by Ugandan Health and Services. As of one year ago, the attendance at the Abaka Primary School has dropped from 405 students to 286, a loss of 29% of the student body. Most have transferred to other schools or simply remain at home for lack of proper latrines for their use. Our ultimate goal with constructing workable, drainable latrines is to bring student enrollment back up to previous levels, if not more. The Advocacy Project and GDPU are here for the kids, their education, and their future.
Posted By Spencer Caldwell (Uganda)
Posted Jun 21st, 2019