Transformative WASH project revolutionizes Ambohimiandra Primary School

Themes: Behaviour change WASH
Countries: Madagascar

Nirina Razafinandrasana Louise Alfa, 49, has been the Director of Ambohimiandra Primary School in Antananarivo, Madagascar, for seven years. She has faced significant challenges due to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conditions. These conditions hampered student health and education, with frequent illnesses and missed classes becoming the norm.

“Lack of hygiene was a major issue. Students didn’t wash their hands regularly, leading to frequent illnesses and missed classes,” says Ms. Alfa.

Changing these ingrained habits proved to be Alfa’s biggest challenge. Students, accustomed to unsanitary conditions, did not understand the importance of hygiene, clean water, and cleanliness. Furthermore, educating both students and parents requires patience and time.

Fortunately, the intervention of WSUP supported by Cartier Philanthropy brought about a significant transformation. WSUP oversaw the rehabilitation of the school’s toilets and the installation of a water tower to ensure a continuous water supply. Additionally, WSUP introduced circular economy activities where students and parents learned to grow vegetables using everyday items like plastic bottles, and they acquired new skills in planting, composting, and wastewater treatment for watering flowers. The vegetable gardens, divided by class, fostered responsibility and teamwork.

“WSUP’s project brought some exciting discoveries. An awareness and sewing workshop for sanitary towels is highly appreciated. Young girls learn to manage their menstrual health and hygiene while recycling used fabrics into sanitary towels,” says Ms. Alfa.

WSUP’s intervention extended beyond infrastructure improvements. It emphasized education and empowerment, teaching students the importance of hygiene and encouraging active participation in maintaining their environment. Additionally, the involvement of both students and teachers has significantly reduced littering, creating a cleaner and more appealing learning space.

Ms. Alfa quickly points out that the impact of WSUP’s projects extends far beyond immediate health benefits. “WSUP’s intervention is not just about creating a cleaner, healthier learning environment. It’s about instilling a culture of hygiene and well-being that will benefit these students long after they leave our school. This transformation has improved academic performance and strengthened the school’s and parents’ bonds, fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility.”

The transformation at Ambohimiandra Primary School exemplifies how targeted interventions in WASH can have far-reaching benefits, promoting health, education, and community cohesion.