22.03.2022. Increased access to education is closely linked with the availability of decent toilets. In the village of Ngombé in the North of the Republic of Congo, where INTERHOLCO’s production site is based, making sure schools are equipped with an adequate sanitation system has immense advantages.
Sanitation is a human right recognized by the United Nations. A clean and safe school environment means fewer school days missed, better learning abilities and better hygiene habits. Also, it gives women and girls the ability to do their part in their community and build their potential, as teachers and young students. Poor sanitation, on the other hand, contaminates drinking-water sources, rivers and food crops, spreading deadly diseases among the wider population.
Ngombé’s state school, also known as, the official school, was built by the local administration in the 1990s. It is the main primary school to date, employing 14 teachers. The high number of pupils, 1,300 girls and boys in a population of 10,000 inhabitants, forced the school master to organise tuition in two shifts. 700 children aged 6 to 8 go to school in the afternoon. The morning is reserved to 600 children aged 8 to 11.
As time went by, the requisite maintenance work lagged and toilets simply went out of order. This put 1,300 children at risk of getting sick due to poor hygiene, and subsequently miss school. The risks were even higher for girls. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, INTERHOLCO proposed to the local administration a viable solution, allocating specific funding for 11 new toilet blocks. All materials were sourced locally, creating job opportunities for skilled labour. The new toilets have direct sewage to septic tanks, supported via a leaching bed (deep well). The septic tanks are pumped out regularly.
According to the United Nations, every USD 1 invested in basic sanitation returns up to USD 5 in saved medical costs and increased productivity. Ngombe’s state school now has fully rehabilitated toilets, with 11 modern toilet blocks: 5 for boys, 5 for girls and 1 for teachers. A functioning water point makes it possible to wash hands. ‘Children may now count on healthy premises,’ affirmed the teaching staff working at the state school.
INTERHOLCO offers Sustainable Hardwood 'Made in Africa' as a responsible solution to promote better living conditions (construction with wood), reduce climate change, and increase social justice. As FSC-certified producer specialized in producing and trading logs, sawn timber, glued laminated scantlings and other products, INTERHOLCO manages the entire chain, from forest to customers since 1962. Harvesting wood selectively, INTERHOLCO protects 1.1 million hectares of natural forest from permanent conversion to agricultural land, giving 16’000 local inhabitants access to quality basic services and keeping the habitat of thousands of gorillas and elephants.
Communications contact INTERHOLCO
Tullia Baldassarri Höger von Högersthal
INTERHOLCO AG, Neuhofstr. 25, 6340 Baar, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)41 767 03 82