Senegalese civil society renovates toilets for girl students

Friday, July 3rd, 2020 11:09 |
A man prepares to renovate toilets at Blaise Diagne High School in Dakar, Senegal, July 10, 2020. (Xinhua)

In Senegal, according to the country's National Agency for Statistics and Demography (ANSD), 32 percent of the population does not have "improved toilet facilities". Among this particular part of the population, 15 percent practice open defecation and do not use toilets every day.

At Blaise Diagne High School, in the heart of the Senegalese capital, vice principal Ousmane Ba observes the 600 or so students of the establishment coming and going between the classrooms. "Toilet problems have an impact on academic performance, especially for girls," he said.

"We realized that the boys were doing better, because the girls had trouble staying all day at school with their menstrual problems," he explained.

In this college, where the majority of students are girls, the toilets have not been renovated in the past ten years. "The children are here from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., if they do not have a toilet, this will inevitably affect the (academic) results. Some girls say that when they have an urgent need, they are forced to go home and sometimes do not come back," Junior Diakhate, elementary school teacher and founding president of the association Simple Action Citoyenne (SAC), told Xinhua.

"We came here and we saw that in each high school we went to, the toilets were not functional, especially the girls' toilets. So we said to ourselves why not try to do something," Junior told us how he started this initiative.

For the past two months, Junior and its volunteer partners have launched an initiative to renovate dilapidated toilets in Senegalese schools for free. At Blaise Diagne college, 12 cabins are already renovated, and 8 are still under construction, which should be completed by mid-July.

The teacher mobilized some companies and donors to finance the operation, the cost is approximately 1 million Francs CFA (about 1,730 US dollars), for the purchase of toilets, doors, paint and tiles.

"These toilets are priceless, because it affects the outcome of these children. Here, they had a success rate of 32 percent, because the girls were completely behind. When they had a few toilets here, the results returned to normal," Junior said, adding that "these toilets are not enough. There are 600 children here, and 600 children for 12 blocks of toilets, that is not enough."

For the past few months, a dozen volunteers have come every day to take part in the operation launched by the association Simple Action Citoyenne and the group La Rue n'est pas une Poubelle, in which Amadou Diallo takes part, a retired soldier who has become a painter.

"I am sanding the wall to make up the cracks with plaster, then we sand before putting the last coat," he showed.

The citizens' initiative of the two friends has spread through the Senegalese media and more than forty schools are now asking Junior to renovate their toilets. "We are going to take a tour of Senegal with this project", Junior said excitedly.

The objective for these associations is to involve the Direction of School Construction (DCS) of Senegalese Ministry of Education in Senegal to show the toilet needs of many schools in the country.

"These are very famous schools, many politicians have studied there and the time has come to help these schools", Junior said, before taking up his paint roller to continue his work.

Vice principal Ousmane Ba said that "we applaud with both hands and congratulate Junior and these volunteers on behalf of the educational community and on behalf of the parents of students." (Xinhua)

More on News