KOLKATA: An international NGO that has been working on improving sanitation in public schools in Kolkata since 2012 plans to spend Rs 96 crore over the next two-and-a-half years to install water filtration systems, drinking and handwashing stations, and improved toilets and urinals in 1,200 government schools under the Sarva Siksha Mission, under which 4 lakh students are enrolled.
It is also carrying out interventions that include delivering hygiene education and menstrual health training through focal teachers and child cabinets.
“The interventions are intended to bring about long-term behaviour change in stakeholders,” said Splash India country director, Manish Joshi. Splash International is headquartered in Seattle, US.
The Rs 113 crore WASH-in-Schools for Everyone (WISE) programme, which was rolled out in 2019 to provide safe drinking water, handwashing and improved toilets in all government and civic schools across the city, was disrupted by Covid in 2020. Till the end of last year, Rs 17.2 crore has been spent to provide improved drinking water and sanitation facilities in 194 schools, where 84,000 children study.
This year, the programme will be extended to 130 more schools, where over 50,000 children study. The rest of the schools will be covered in 2022 and 2023.
“In the context of the current pandemic, the programme is helping the state implement the guidelines on healthy and hygienic conditions in schools for their reopening,” said Joshi, adding that it will lead to healthier students and improved school attendance, especially for girls.
The NGO is currently working across eight countries in Asia and Africa — Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. Kolkata is the second city after Adis Ababa, where the WASH programme is being implemented in all schools. Splash has also played a key role in providing access to safe drinking water at all orphanages across China.
After the programme is implemented in Kolkata, the organisation intends to replicate ‘WASH in school model’ in partnership with other NGOs and state and municipal governments across India.