5 February 2018

Uganda: 72 Primary Schools in Hoima Risk Closure Over Lack of Sanitary Facilities

More than half the number of government aided primary schools in Hoima District risk closure because of absence of sanitary facilities.

It has emerged that most of the schools have their pit latrines filled up and other sanitary facilities are also lacking, putting the lives of both the learners and teachers in danger.

The district has a 135 government aided primary schools, but reports say about 72 of the schools do not have pit latrines, facing uncertain future.

Mr Jackson Mulindambura Mugenyi, the district secretary for health and education has confirmed the crisis and said the situation is dire.

"We have a total of 135 government schools in Hoima District but at least 72 of them have no pit latrines because they are filled up. I don't know what we are going to do. These schools may be closed because we cannot risk the lives of our pupils," he said.

He identified some of the schools with no pit latrines as Ndarazi primary school in Kigorobia Sub County and Kibingo in Kyabigambire Sub County.

Bunyoro sub-region has been identified as a Cholera hotspot with Hoima being the main cholera hub in the region and fears are ripe that with such a terrible latrine coverage in schools, the situation may worsen soon.

Mr Mugenyi said the situation is compounded by the fact that the district only receives Shs300 million as the school facility grants annually. He said the amount is too little to put up meaningful infrastructures in place. The school facility grant is supposed cater for construction of classrooms, teachers' houses, latrines and other sanitary facilities within the schools.

"This amount is too little for this district. Imagine I want to construct five stance pit latrine which will cost seven million shillings each and a school needs more than three of such facilities for boys, girls and teachers. We also need to put up other facilities as well, so this money is too small. Government should give us more money to construct latrines in these schools," Mr Mugenyi said.

He said: "Some of these schools use bushes to answer nature's call, exposing them to risks of Cholera. If we wait until government gives us funds, we shall remain closed for one year before we secure the funds to construct the sanitary facilities. We need the money now."

However, the District Education Officer, Mr Godfrey Serwanja has disagreed with the secretary. He said the district has 135 UPE schools, not 153 as stated by the secretary for education, and that the latrine coverage is over 85 percent. "The situation is not as bad as he has put it. That is wrong information," he retorted.

"We already have intervention plans in schools that have no facilities under the refugee projects and in places like Kyangwali Laboya and Buseruka the development partners are constructing the facilities," he noted.

He however, admitted that in some places, the facilities are lacking. The DEO has admitted that it is true the Shs300 million they receive as school grant is too little to put up meaningful structures in these schools.

"The 300 million is just a drop in the ocean but we are also thankful to the government for giving us that because some districts are receiving less than that amount. We however, appeal for more funding from the government to construct more facilities," he said.

The district chairperson, Mr Kirungi Kadiri has also disagreed with his secretary for education, saying all the schools in the district have sanitary facilities, though he admitted that the population is growing and therefore, the facilities are not enough.

"As far as I am concerned, we do not have any school in Hoima with no sanitary facilities. That information he has given to you is wrong. Ndarazi has two five stand pit latrines for boys and another three for girls, but because of huge population, they are not enough," he said.

He however, noted that cross the district, the facilities are not enough.

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