In the silent struggle against period poverty and the profound impact of poor sanitation in Kenyan schools, this blog unveils the harsh realities faced by students. Join us as we delve into the urgent call for action, seeking to break the chains of period poverty and advocate for comprehensive sanitation reform in these educational spaces.
by Sheila Jepkemoi
Sanitation Struggles in Kenyan Schools
In Kenya, the profound impact of inadequate sanitation is etched in heartbreaking statistics - a yearly loss of US$244 million, primarily due to premature deaths attributed to water, sanitation, and hygiene issues. A devastating toll unfolds, with approximately 19,500 Kenyans, including 17,100 children under 5, succumbing annually to diseases like diarrhea, revealing a stark reality that extends beyond mortality and permeates the realm of education, perpetuating the insidious cycle known as 'period poverty.'
Menstruation and Education: The Dire State of 'Period Poverty'
The dire state of 'period poverty' is particularly pronounced in many Kenyan schools, where girls grapple with insufficient and poorly maintained facilities. These challenges contribute to the loss of an average of four school days per month due to menstruation, equating to a staggering 165 learning days over four years of high school. Even when separate toilets for girls exist, a lack of privacy, cleanliness, and security compromises their usability. The absence of running water, soap, and proper disposal facilities further exacerbates the problem, creating a multifaceted challenge that extends beyond physical infrastructure.
A closer look at Tot Division primary schools, such as Toroko Primary School, reveals the harsh reality of pit latrines - cracked walls, leaking roofs, and overcrowding. The inadequacy of these facilities forces students to endure hazardous conditions, impacting both their health and education. The distressing environment inside these latrines, with the overwhelming stench and makeshift disinfectants like ashes, paints a grim picture of neglect and hardship, symbolized by the cracked walls and roofless structures.
In response to this urgent need, organizations like Freedom Voices Report must step in to address the persistence of the problem and the absence of a lasting solution. A plea is made for collaboration with school administrations, fostering support to address the sanitation hazards affecting schools across Tot Division. The call to action extends beyond infrastructure to address the immediate needs of schoolgirls, advocating for the provision of sanitary pads and a comprehensive campaign for improved sanitary conditions.
The Cry for Dignity: A Schoolgirl's Desperate Plea
Amidst Toroko Primary School's sanitation crisis, the blog unveils the emotional plea of a young girl who has navigated these inadequate facilities from nursery school to standard eight. Her harrowing journey, from the pungent odor signaling imminent fullness to the desperate use of makeshift disinfection, paints a vivid picture of the unsanitary conditions within. The emotional plea extends to the overcrowded and undermaintained latrines at Toroko Primary School, where long queues force pupils to wait, miss lessons, and sometimes resort to the bushes, compromising their overall well-being.
Overcrowded Desperation: The Struggle for a Basic Right
The perils of neglect manifest in the overcrowded and undermaintained latrines at Toroko Primary School. With a growing student population and only one or two latrines serving the entire school, long queues form, forcing pupils to wait and miss lessons after break time. Desperation sometimes drives them to the bushes, where the odorous environment draws complaints from villagers. Teachers, in a sacrifice to preserve dignity, may designate specific times for pupils to use their latrine. When the rains come, the consequences escalate, with feces washed into rivers and water sources, creating breeding grounds for waterborne diseases. Several pupils end up hospitalized, their education hindered, and their overall well-being compromised.
Empathy in Action: A Plea for Immediate Intervention
This heartfelt appeal underscores the urgency of immediate intervention, emphasizing the paramount need for improved sanitation facilities, access to sanitary products, and education on hygiene. Organizations like Freedom Voices Report, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, are implored to contribute to this crucial cause and bring about positive change in the lives of these students. The blog concludes with a poignant reminder that breaking the chains of period poverty requires collective action and unwavering support.
About the Author
Sheila Jepkemoi Chelanga, presently residing in Kenya. She is a fourth year
undergraduate student at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, pursuing a Bachelor degree in Education arts, English and literature combination. Presently she is volunteering with the Freedom Voice Reports on Women Rights, Issues.