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Rwanda: school toilet realities from the field

Published on: 09/08/2011

On the Friday 22 July 2011 field visit in Rwanda we are looking at two plastic, injection moulded Mobilet toilet blocks with five seats each for boys and girls at the Kicukiro Technical Training Centre funded by South Korea, just outside Kigali. The toilets have been supplied in May 2010 by the private company AquaSan at US$ 11,000 for the complete installation under contract from the Ministry of Education.

On the Friday 22 July field 2011 visit in Rwanda we are looking at two plastic, injection moulded Mobilet toilet blocks with five seats each for boys and girls at the Kicukiro Technical Training Centre funded by South Korea, just outside Kigali. The toilets have been supplied in May 2010 by the private company AquaSan at US$ 11,000 for the complete installation under contract from the Ministry of Education.

Mobilet for girls front entrance Kicukiru Rwanda

Mobilet school toilets for girls, Photo: IRC/Dick de Jong 2011

“So far we have installed 40 of these Mobilet blocks in Rwanda”, Mr. Rakesh Vikram Singh says. The blocks have a specially shaped vent pipe against flies entering and they have a plastic tank that is used to collect rainwater for the handwashing unit.

Old and new toliet blocks

 

Old and new school toilets, Photo: IRC/Dick de Jong 2011

According to Mr. Singh the pit lined underground container is 3 metres deep, not as deep as the 10 metres required by old Rwandan government regulations. If the roughly 1,000 students keep the urine separated the pit fills up in five to six years, if the urine is not separated it fills up in three to four years. Most of the students here are orphans.

Mr. Singh

 

Mr. Singh and the handwashing unit. Photo: IRC/Dick de Jong 2011

Boys and girls mix

At the time of our visiting the toilets looked clean, one of the blocks had soap, and the other one did not. Originally the block nearest to the entrance was meant only for boys. The one at the other side of the big college complex is meant for girls only. In practice the plastic toilest are used by boys and girls.

Disappearing toilet paper is another problem, according to Mrs Solange Nivarmahirwe, who is the cleaning lady for the whole compound of the training college. Every four or five months AquaSan comes and checks the blocks. Solange calls in if problems occur in between. She earns a meagre US$ 50 per month for this. The college outsourced this contract to another company Shine Rwanda.

Tollet cleaning

Solange Nivarmahirwe cleaning.Photo: IRC/Dick de Jong 2011 

More pilots wanted

These two Mobilets are part of a pilot project for which AguaSan won the tender from the Ministry of Education. The other five seat-Mobilets in Rwanda are ordered by dioceses, private schools, community-based organisations, World Vision and World Relief.  

Toilet vent pipe

 

Vent pipe agains fllies. Photo: IRC/Dick de Jong 2011

Mr. Singh is responsible for AguaSan in Rwanda and Burundi. His company is trying to reduce the price of two units to US$10,000. They hope that the government will team up with them for a larger pilot programme on more sites with two to three year maintenance contracts, including joint evaluations that can help improve performance or redesign of these toilet blocks.

AguaSan has other offices in Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan. They all offer a wide range of family and community water and sanitation facilities. The company is part of the AguaSan Tech Group that also comprises Kentainers and Cresstanks.

They installed 400 to 500 of these toilet blocks in Uganda. One of my colleagues who recently lived in Uganda told me that in the hotter climate there some users of the plastic toilets complained about the plastic smell inside and about the wobbly slab and foot stands.

Dick de Jong