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Schools, health centres benefit from UNICEF WASH project

Learners at St Peter’s Primary School-Kyoga in Isingiro District washing their hands on one of the taps installed by UNICEF. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The United Nations Children’s Fund-UNICEF has distributed water, sanitation, and hygiene-WASH supplies to schools and health centres across the country.

The programme has been extended to 1,172 government-aided primary schools and 472 health centres ranging from health centre IIIs to regional hospitals. However, several components of the project also cover the nearby communities.

Catherine Ntabadde, UNICEF’s communication specialist says that the programme is part of the fund’s effort to mitigate and prevent transmission of COVID-19 pandemic and also ensuring a hygienic environment at health centres, communities, and safe re-opening of schools.

Each school has received a standard wash package worth 1.75 million shillings. The packet includes items like hand-free washing facilities, liquid soap, bleach, laundry soap sanitiser, and packets of emergency sanitary pads among other items.

Similar suppliers have also been given to health centres in addition to water buckets, aqua tabs, heavy-duty gloves, and calcium hypochlorite.

Eng. Peter Opwanya, UNICEF’s WASH specialist for Western Uganda says that in addition to the supplies, they have also constructed modern latrines designed to cater to the special needs of users particularly girls at school and expectant mothers seeking services at health centres.

Eng. Opwanya adds that they have also installed motorized water systems in selected schools and health centres found in areas where access to water is difficult.

“In such areas, learners spend more hours looking for water thus losing out on learning. At the same time, expectant mothers and other patients also find it difficult when they go to health facilities which do have water supply,” said Opwanya adding that the system will also be used to supply water to the neighbouring communities.

Pancratius Turyatunga, Headteacher of St. Peter’s primary school in Isingiro district, one of the beneficiaries notes that the donation comes in handy given the fact they have been in dire need of such supplies since they couldn’t afford all of them due to inadequate funds from the government.

Turyatunga also adds that with menstruation-friendly latrines and sanitary pads, the intervention will help to keep girls in school.

Dr Gerald Asaba, the Kikuube District Health Officer also notes that the WASH supplies will not only help in the containment of Covid-19 disease but will certainly be beneficial in combating other water-borne diseases.

Hussein Bwami, the acting Chief Administrative Officer Kikuube district cautioned the schools and health centres against mismanaging the supplies since they had earlier received funds from the government.

Bwami notes that for better management, the funds from the government should therefore be allocated to address other needs like the construction of fences.

Similar observations were made by Godfrey Nkuba, Isingiro District Education Officer who adds that accountability submitted by beneficiaries will be critically looked at to ensure that headteachers don’t use donations to account for government funds.

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