With a rapidly increasing population, a shortage of fresh water and vulnerability to rising sea levels on its low-lying islands, Kiribati faces a number of challenges when it comes to water and sanitation. It also has high infant mortality and high unemployment rate, both factors that can influence potential economic prosperity.
The governments of Australia and Kiribati understand that reduced child health can impact upon education opportunities, and in turn, the country’s prosperity. So, when the Australian Government funded, Coffey-managed Kiribati Education Improvement Program was established in 2011, access to sanitation was incorporated into the program’s infrastructure projects through the Primary School Rehabilitation Plan.
Some schools have access to piped water, while others do not, particularly those in outlying islands, and so national standards were introduced to assist any school through the country to make the best use of the resources they have available to ensure all children have access to safe, easy and clean toilets and washing facilities.
At the remote Sunrise Primary School, no access to piped water means that the upgraded toilet facilities are made, using local materials and are suitable for local conditions. Children here wash their hands using plastic bottles filled with clean water along with soap.
Closer to Tawara, urban schools now have enclosed toilet blocks with piped water and washing facilities, with many of these blocks have ramps to ensure full accessibility.
Such a basic human need, now being met in Kiribati schools.