As government and its partners intensify fight against cholera spread in the county of Bukonzo in Kasese district, the schools in the area remain at big risk due to the pathetic state most of them are in.
Most of the schools, both public and private schools in Nyakiyumbu sub-county in Bokonzo which registered the highest casualties of cholera outbreak are in a worrying state, with falling structures, unclean environment and congested classrooms that leaves the pupils at high risk of contracting cholera.
At Kaghorwe Preparatory School in Nyakiyuba I village, which accommodates over 200 students, there was no single drop of water in a jerrican at the latrine.
The toilet was very unclean with human waste in a bush around the toilet.
When asked why there is no water for children to wash their hands after using the latrine, which is one of the recommended prevention health habit for cholera, the head master of the school, Cyril Muhindo said the person who normally fetches for them water had not come yet.
“Water is very far, about 2kms from here. There is a person who is supposed to fetch for us on a bicycle but he has not come yet,” Muhindo noted.
He added that in a day, the school is buys each jerrican at Shs1000 hence they can only afford 3 jerricans a day.
This leaves the teachers and students with very little water to drink and wash their hands.
Edson Kuniha, the vocal person, Red Cross Kasese noted that the spread rate in schools is too high due to congestion and body contacts between the pupils.
“Our sensitization has been intense in schools and other public places. We have insisted on the use of having clean proper latrines, washing hands after using toilet and boiling or treating drinking water,” Kuniha said.
He added: “However we have a big challenge. Some people are giving excuses to why they cannot carry out the proposed health habits. There say there is no water; they can’t afford to put up latrines or even boil water. Red Cross has been supplying Aqua tabs for free for people to treat water and that has helped a great deal. I don’t know what would have happened if Red Cross had not intervened. But as you can see, now people are saying there is no water to treat. The government must come in and intervene.”
Kuniha called upon local leaders to find solution to the challenges that are facing the school.
Some of the schools did not even have toilets.
St Johns Isango in Isango Sub County does not have a toilet after the old one collapsed.
“All these challenges leave us vulnerable to disease attacks. We need political intervention in this area if these challenges are to be addressed,” Kuniha added.
Edson Bahereza, Advocacy officer Red Cross Uganda in charge of Cholera Operations Bwera Region, noted that most of the challenges facing this area are due to negligence and low levels of education.
“You find a person saying they don’t have money to buy a jerrican but can afford to buy a music system or solar. To be clean, one doesn’t need to be rich. People need to be sensitised about self-help but not expecting government to help in everything.”
He added, “The schools in this area are pathetic. People are putting up structures that can collapse even tomorrow. This is risky for the children as well. Local leaders and government officials should sit down and look into the challenges facing Kasese district, especially Bukonzo.”