The smell of an open cess pit is not one of life’s most pleasant experiences, but many Sri Lankan children and teachers have to put up with it on a daily basis.
It is an area a number of NGO’s have focused on since the tsunami and we have played our part by building or repairing toilet blocks at four schools.
In most cases, the principals see the benefits of maintaining their new facilities in good order and set up cleaning rotas among the pupils.
However, one of our first lessons in the importance of sustainability came from a school where this didn’t happen.
Within a few months of opening, our toilet block was filthy and the principal had even lost the key to one of the blocks.
We have tried to make sure this never happens again.
Building toilets can cost up to US$2,000, but if there is existing infrastructure the overhaul can be as little as US$500 per toilet block.