About One Hundred and 40 basic schools in the Northern, and Upper East Regions have been assessed and certified as WASH Friendly schools under the I-SHINE Project initiated by the Catholic Relief Services, CRS.
The certification of the schools was done by the CRS Regional Certification Teams in the said regions after a careful assessment on the usage of the WASH friendly facilities.
About 22 primary schools in the Nabdam District of the Upper East Region are direct beneficiaries of the project.
Speaking at a durbar at Kongo to round up the project, a Community Mobilisation Specialist at CRS, Charles Obeng Appiah said the successes chalked up by the I-SHINE project is as a result of fruitful engagements with its development partners including community members and management of beneficiary schools.
In 2014, CRS rolled out the I-SHINE project in six districts of the Northern and Upper East Regions with three chosen from each district.
With financial support by the Helmsley Charitable Trust of UK, the I-SHINE project was executed to cover a total of 138 communities with very thoughtful and innovative interventions in the area of integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, as well as nutrition and Community Savings and Internal Lending, SILC.
After three years of its implementation, school enrollment and retention among basic schools in targeted districts have increased tremendously.
Moreover, the formation of school health clubs in all the schools had led to a corresponding feat in sanitation and hygiene behaviours through the support of WASH mentors coupled with menstrual hygiene management and the construction of tippy taps.
Additionally, 142 gender and disability friendly latrines were completed and handed over to 138 schools while over 760 SILC groups were formed and trained to inculcate in community members the habit of savings to fight poverty.
The organisation of the mini durbar was to mark the end of the 3-year project and to award certificates to schools that were assessed and certified by the regional partners, the GES and Environmental Sanitation and Health Units of the assembly.
Addressing the gathering, a Community Mobilisation Specialist at CRS, Charles Obeng Appiah announced that the implementation of the I-SHINE project was carried out alongside a Community-Led Total Sanitation intervention in three selected communities of the East Mamprusi District.
He was elated about the positive outcome of the intervention, indicating that evidence from implementing partners have informed the decision of his outfit to roll out CLTS in all communities chosen for the next phase of WASH under a nicknamed ‘Integrated Community, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Project’.
According to Mr. Appiah the project will be implemented in two districts but will be scaled up to benefit other communities.
He however, urged the communities involved to embrace the upcoming project and take advantage of it to better their lives.
On behalf of the I-SHINE team, Mr. Appiah lauded the collaborative effort of the GES and the Ghana Health Service, GHS and urged them to work together to ensure its sustainability.
The Nabdam District Director of Education, Mr. Joseph Amesimeku highlighted the gains.
He was particular about the construction of tippy taps, toilets and Changing rooms used by school girls during menstruating.
The facilities, he hinted had resulted in massive school enrollment and retention in schools and among girls since they no longer stay at home whenever they are in their menstrual period.
He said due to the WASH friendly facilities sited at the various school, sanitation in general had improved and this had translated in the health status of the people because some community members have replicated the tippy- tap strategy in their homes and have also realise the need to send their wards to school.
His submission was backed by the District Director of Education, Meiri Seidu who was of the view that it was high time GES integrate health activities into the I-SHINE project and more importantly embark on vigorous campaign drive to drum home the need for partners to work towards its sustenance for improved quality health outcomes.
In all, 22 schools in the Nabdam district were certified as adjudged five star WASH friendly schools.
They were presented with books and certificates. Logre Presentation Primary, Kotintabig Primary and Soliga Primary were among the schools that attained high scores to be rated five star.
45 out of 166 field agents who were recruited and trained to roll out the SILC methodology were also certified and awarded certificates for passing the benchmark to qualify as Private Service Providers, PSP.