The European Union-UNICEF and the PNG Government Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project continues to improve the health and wellbeing of students especially females, in selected pilot schools around the country.
The five-year WASH improvement project is already reaching its final stages since its commencement in 2017 and after being implemented in four districts, the results are now becoming a beacon of hope for other communities, health centres and schools in the country to model after.
The chosen districts for the project are Hagen Central in WHP, Nawaeb in Morobe, Central Bougainville in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and Goroka in Eastern Highlands Province. This partnership project has built toilet facilities for over 200 schools in the districts.
Among the many positive changes in infrastructure and culture, girls in the selected district schools are now able to finish their classes properly without having to worry about their menstruation, which is one of the most common natural events that affects a girl’s emotional and psychological learning abilities in school.
The project has allowed the girls to have complete access to changing rooms with special hygiene teachers to assist them.
Celestine Epna (Pictured) is a female grade 8 student and a member of her school’s hygiene club at Situm Primary, in Nawaeb district, Morobe Province.
“We feel that someone respects our privacy as girls with the use of our new Menstruation Hygiene facility and peer support from School hygiene teachers,” Said Celestine.
The WASH project has made it much easier and safer for girls to use their own toilets with incinerators for waste management.
As a hygiene club member, Celestine plays a huge role in the school’s health club ensuring the toilets and washrooms are clean.
“The school health club supports referral pathways when girls have personal problems and need support from hygiene teachers or the school’s management,” She says.
Situm primary school is the biggest primary school in Nawaeb District of Morobe, with over a thousand students enrolled and 30 teaching staff with a limited amount of access to sanitation facilities.
The school’s Hygiene teacher, Mrs Angelina Meisi said that the school is now providing basic hygiene kits for girls to use including soap, toiletries, and cleaning detergents for the facility.
However, she says the school is still exploring means for reusable pads that can be sown and sold locally at an affordable price.
The district’s implanting partner, World Vision with funding support from EU and UNICEF has already constructed 18 more girls’ toilets and Menstruation Hygiene Management Washrooms which includes incinerators, gender-oriented toilets and handwashing facilities.