Improving Water & Sanitation in Schools in the Northern Coast

Donors: Exxon Mobil, Acción Social
Local Allies: Fundación Mamonal, CINARA, Cartagena’s Secretary of Education, Barranquilla’s Secretary of Education, Santa Marta’s Secretary of Education
Beneficiaries: 8,270 students from seven schools
Location: Barranquilla, Cartagena, Riohacha and Santa Marta 

In 2008, Give To Colombia began its first ever water and sanitation project in the northern coast of Colombia in partnership with Fundación Mamonal. The goal of this project was to prevent neglected tropical diseases and thereby lower school drop-outs rates, especifically in girls, as water-bourne diseases are one of the main causes of academic dissertion, and an assessment conducted in the area identified the lack of potable water and latrines as one of the major causes of morbidity.

G2C was not the first organization to build bathrooms for schools, but unlike the others, we reached out to Universidad del Valle’s Institute for Research and Development in Potable Water – CINARA – to create an educational component for the project. This led to the construction of sanitary facilities, the creation of local committees for water and sanitation management within the Parents Teachers’ Associations, the implementation of training workshops (developed alongside Fundación Mamonal) where teachers learned the UNICEF methodology, and the implementation of community campaigns that taught children the importance of personal hygiene through various communication strategies (interpersonal, local radio, TV, printing materials, etc.).

In addition, the project created a way for students, parents, and staff to carry out assessment exercises, which helped the students evaluate their sanitary spaces and practices. The exercises also led to a sense of leadership in the girls as they showed interest in improving self-care behaviors, and even worked together to improve the lesson plans used by their teachers and to organize cleaning days among their classmates.

Although the initial goal was to work with six schools, the project was expanded to benefit seven schoolsWe would like to thank the teachers from Institución Educativa Livio Reginaldo Fischione in Riohacha who deemed it necessary for their school to take part in the project, and assumed a portion of the costs in order to help their students participate in this initiative.