Do not discard pit latrines totally
I have heard recent discussions in the media about the abolition of pit latrines in schools. At first thought, this is a step in the right direction. Then I decided to speak on the issue with a few administrators and teachers from schools that have modern toilets.
Many of those I spoke with are of the view that totally eradicating the pit latrine would be a bad idea. While it is widely welcomed to install water closets and modernise the schools, there are serious implications if a somewhat simple thing is not handled with care.
To have modern toilets and no water or not an adequate supply of water can cause more serious problems than those that are said to be as a result of pit latrines.
The teachers indicate that on a day when there is no water, school is closed. I don't believe I have to describe in much detail the result of hundreds of children using toilets and having no water to flush them.
The administrators have also spoken of instances where students try to flush things that are not supposed to be disposed of in that way and toilets become blocked. To conduct repairs, very often schools have to be closed until they are complete.
Another point that we need to be mindful of is the cost of water for this purpose. At a time when schools are struggling to balance the books it may not always be possible to fund this activity.
It is my view that we do not totally eliminate pit latrines from our schools, but retain at least two as contingency when there is no water or when the toilets need to be repaired.