13 new toilet blocks and water collection tanks have been installed at the newly constructed Early Childhood Development Centres we support for Congolese refugee children in Uganda.
Read about the impact they're having on hygiene and sanitation in Kyaka II refugee settlement....
The Kyaka II refugee settlement hosts around 125,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has quadrupled in size over the past three years, well beyond its intended capacity and the resulting strain on sanitation and water systems has led to several disease outbreaks over the years.
Since 2019 we have been working alongside 30 refugee communities in Kyaka II to provide quality early years education through 30 Early Childhood Development centres (preschools) and now, outdoor cluster learning groups, for over 9,000 refugee children aged 3-6 years old.
All 30 communities had existing preschool shelters, but 14 were completely dilapidated and lacked latrines and a safe water supply, so were not meeting children's basic needs. Together with Ashden award-winning, sustainable builder Haileybury Youth Trust (HYT), we built 14 brand new school buildings and accompanying toilet blocks, the last of which were completed and handed over to refugee communities earlier this year.
Whilst the latrines were a welcome addition to the preschools, with no water tanks, the children were unable to wash their hands after toileting, or before eating; posing a serious health risk. The preschools used small, and often dirty containers to store water, which was contaminated and did not provide enough for the needs of the children.
Many preschools were far away from water sources, up to 2.5km in some cases; and these were often unstable or of poor quality. Communities were reluctant to clean and maintain the water sources, given their poor state, further perpetuating hygiene and sanitation issues.
Other NGOs have installed tanks at a village level in some areas of the settlement but the supply is inadequate for the growing population, and the taps are only opened on specific days each week. Some preschools were paying money for jerry cans of water to bring into the schools, but these were expensive and parents were unable to contribute to the costs.
Durable water tanks were requested by the refugee communities and parents that own the schools, via their volunteer School Management Committees.
Thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to contract HYT to begin building new rainwater collection tanks for each preschool in July 2022 and these were completed in October 2022.
“Children used to defecate everywhere, and households neighbouring Kyamagabo preschool used to complain of children defecating in their gardens. Teachers used to share latrines with the pupils, or use neighbours’ latrines. The school population was big, and generally hygiene was so poor that learners were exposed to infections. We are so grateful for what Children on the Edge Africa did for us. All these issues have been solved”.
The 14 new preschool buildings are part of a Early Years programme of 30 schools (16 were already fit-for-purpose), owned by refugee communities and with sustainability at its core.
We have been working with these communities since 2019 to create the best programme possible. First we facilitated strong volunteer Management Committees at each school, then we provided refugee teachers with the best Early Years training in Uganda, equipping each community with the motivation, ownership, and skills to maintain the programme beyond our involvement. Teachers receive business training and microloans as communities can't afford salaries; and learn to create learning resources from recycled materials.
Increasing numbers of people in the settlement is creating overcrowding in the preschools, so in 2022 we rolled out a complementary cluster learning programme for children to study outside in areas without a preschool building.