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A Social Enterprise Digs In For Toilet Upgrades In Schools

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SATO, a social business in sanitation and hygiene, is upgrading toilets in 24 schools across Kenya over the next one year, aimed at providing a clean, fresh and safe learning environment for more than 50,000 children. The upgrade involves converting the schools’ open pit latrines to closed flushable toilets with a toilet pan. 

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 Jòint 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% of rural schools without hygiene facilities.

As part of the STEP initiative, SATO has upgraded toilets at Lea Mathare Learning Centre, which caters for 100 children from Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi County. The completed toilets were handed over to the school community last 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,” Mr Samuel Langat, Africa Lead for SATO, said at Lea Mathare Learning Centre.

Mr Langat explained that STEP upgraded toilets in the school and fits them with SATO solutions. The toilets are fitted with SATO’s innovative trap doors that minimise odours and keep flies and other insects away. They also require 80% 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 Mr Reagan Waithaka, the founder and director of Lea Mathare Learning Centre. 

See Also >> Kenya Still Struggling With Open Defecation 

SATO Kenya Country Head Alex Njagi said 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. 

“We are committed to improve the sanitation situation in our learning facilities and in the process of identifying the schools to enroll into the programme,” Mr Njagi said. “We welcome partners from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to collaborate with in upgrading even more schools’ toilets”. 

Next >> S.K. Macharia: From Toilet Studio To Media Empire Owner

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