Stories of Change

The new block of toilets at Ngengecho Primary School in West Pokot, Kenya.

A simple solution to help girls in Kenya stay in school: toilets

Girls in West Pokot, Kenya, have to overcome a lot of challenges in order to stay in school. Factors like early pregnancy, forced marriage and the belief that they are needed at home for chores or to care for their siblings all stand between girls and  getting an education.

But there’s another factor, too: toilets.

Having a safe, clean, private bathroom is something that we all want every day. For girls going through puberty and starting their periods, a clean and private toilet stall can make all the difference in maintaining their dignity.

Until very recently, the girls who attend Ngengecho Primary School in West Pokot had to use bathrooms that were definitely undignified. Head teacher Samwel Teka told us, “The girls had to make do with a three-door, semi-permanent structure made of iron sheets. You can imagine that with 194 girls at school, the standard of sanitation was obviously not good.”

Our team knows how good sanitation can make a huge difference for both health and dignity, so we teamed up with the community and our local partner, Yangat, to help. We’ve just completed a four-door block of toilets for the girls at the school through our School Safe Zones program. And since four stalls isn’t enough for a school of over 400 students, we’re working on a second block, too. It’s nearly finished, and we expect that it will be ready and waiting for the students when they return from their holiday break in January.

“The new toilet block has tremendously improved girls’ attendance, and lately we have had minimal cases of girls being absent,” Mr. Teka said. “We are very grateful for the support. The new block of toilets guarantees privacy to the girls as they are fitted with well-fixed doors. With a total school population of 408 students, we can only hope for the best in terms of more girls attending once the other new block will be complete. The sanitation challenges we have been facing will be a thing of the past.”

Teenagers have enough to worry about, and we can help ease their burden with something as simple as a well-fitting door on a toilet stall. We are proud to work with Ngengecho and other schools in West Pokot to make sure that girls here have every opportunity to go to school and chase their dreams.