I have blogged about different approaches used to encourage improved sanitation, but Uganda has again stepped it up (at least in theory). Today’s Daily Monitor reports that Kampala City Council is closing schools that don’t conform to city sanitation standards. While this may be a crucial step to show the importance of sanitation I have a few questions as to the cost vs. benefits of this approach.
-I wonder if these schools have funding to improve their own sanitation conditions. If not, as I suspect, how could they possibly deal with this?
-What happens to the children from these schools? Do they stay at home where the sanitation situation is presumably just as poor? Are they forced to go to another school farther away that probably has a dismal student to teacher ratio?
Apparently they have already closed three schools….What is next?
Ugandan Primary School Students Painting a Latrine with Health Messages
One of the difficult issues facing governments, development agencies, and public health professionals alike is how to get people to poop in latrines. Authorities in Kitgum Uganda have resorted to arresting people without latrines. 29 people thus far have been reportedly arrested and will be forced to do community service and build a latrine (Daily Monitor, 8/3/09). Having been to Kitgum, a place where most of the population has been displaced in camps for years, I am really impressed that they are taking the initiative to prioritize sanitation. May be it is the fear of another Hep E outbreak? May be authorities are just fed up with dealing with cholera each and every year? I wonder how long this “by-law” will be enforced? Will it really work?
Law enforcement in Northern Uganda is surely not efficient and I doubt they will devote too much time to rounding up non-latrine-owners. This type of action could however be part of a larger campaign to create social stigma around open defecation. Many education campaigns and approaches like Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) aim to get the community to identify their state of sanitation and propose solutions to move forward. Could law enforcement from the top help this in any way?
Latrine in Northern Uganda (Gulu/Amuru District)