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This #GivingTuesday, Nov. 30, the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH) is working with the Rwanda Plumbers Organization (RPO) to launch the construction of new toilet and hand-washing facilities for Munazi Primary School in Gisagara District, Southern Province.
Throughout this year, with assistance from IWSH, RPO teams have visited numerous potential project sites, collecting data on the number of students and staff members; number of, and access to, toilets and hand-washing facilities; security and privacy aspects; and information on water supply and wastewater treatment. They ultimately selected Munazi Primary School, and in August a group that included RPO volunteers, IWSH staff, the Munazi Primary School principal and plumbing, architectural and engineering volunteers from Australia worked together to develop plans over various digital platforms as part of a remote design workshop — a first of its kind, for IWSH.
Because of the IWSH and RPO collaboration, and through the generous dollars raised by the #GivingTuesday campaign, more than 800 children will soon have access to safe water, wastewater and hygiene facilities. The school's current 14 toilets — eight for girls, six for boys, none for staff or disabled students — are old pit toilets, most of which have doors that do not open and close properly — and there are no hand-washing facilities near the toilets. The IWSH-RPO work calls for seven toilets for girls, five for boys (plus four urinals), two for disabled students, and one each for female and male staff members. The girls' and boys' hygiene facilities will each have seven hand-washing taps and a low tap at each end, as well as ramps leading into the buildings. About 14,000 liters of water will be stored nearby for flushing and hand-washing.
RPO is now finalizing engineering plans and construction drawings and will then connect its volunteers with local contractors to build the facilities.
"We scoped schools: different schools, many schools, and after identifying all of the schools that were in need, we have chosen Munazi Primary School because Munazi Primary School does not have [functional] toilets," RPO President and Founder Jean Claude Twagirimana said. "If you see the toilets that students are using there, it is a very big problem. We saw that Munazi is really in need of this support."
IWSH International Project Director Grant Stewart said it has been a great learning experience for all parties despite communication and technical difficulties of the remote workshop approach.
"While this will never replace the importance of hands-on, practical, in-person experience, IWSH continues to find new, innovative ways to provide life-changing services to those in need!" he said. "Together we've managed to deliver a clear plan for construction for Munazi Primary School. We expect this work to begin in the next few months. The new facilities are going to feature a secure water supply, a safe wastewater system, hand-washing facilities, and enough separate male and female toilets for all staff and students."
A #GivingTuesday fundraiser has been launched on the IWSH Facebook Page, @IWSHFoundation, and all proceeds will be used to support local volunteers and provide further resources for the upcoming construction projects at Munazi Primary School.
For more information about the Rwanda Plumbers Organization, visit www.rwandaplumbers.org.