Keeping Girls in School in Papua New Guinea

2 min read
Students celebrating outside the new toilets
Image: WaterAid/Dion Kombeng

Access to decent sanitation in Papua New Guinea is a large issue, with fewer than 3 in 10 people having access to a decent toilet. This issue extends to schools in the country, with over half the schools in PNG lacking access to a decent toilet. Without access to a toilet students often have to leave school to use a toilet or miss school altogether. Lack of access disproportionality affects girls, who without a space to safely manage menstruation, often miss many hours of school when on their periods. 

In this context, with the support of our partner Who Gives A Crap, WaterAid Papua New Guinea has been working with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-funded Gender Action Platform to deliver an integrated menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) program in Central Province, called ‘Keeping Girls in School’.

As part of this, the WaterAid PNG team recently joined the celebrations of the opening of a toilet block at Gaire School in Wewak. The inclusive toilet block is now a model for future WASH in schools projects in PNG.  At the start of the project, issues were experienced with identifying and contracting a construction partner that could produce quality work within the project budget across four schools.

The new toilets
Image: WaterAid/Dion Kombeng

To help with this issue, a portion of Who Gives A Crap’s donation was allocated to the project. This additional funding was also allocated to showcase the school as a ‘model school’ for WASH in schools, and what can be constructed in line with the PNG National WASH in school’s policy when funded appropriately. The demonstration site gained visibility for WASH and MHM in schools and it now means that 471 students now have access to an inclusive toilet.

Watch the video below to see the excitement and life-changing outcomes these new toilets will deliver!