Child latrine deaths: School Management Failure
There are about four million pit latrines in use across the country where proper sanitation is not available.
The Department of Basic Education’s 2016 statistics show that more than 9000 schools have only pit latrines for toilets and they are in common use at schools for little children, according to a report by the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO).
The education department has come under fire following the deaths by drowning in faeces in pit latrines of little Michael Komape in Limpopo and Lumka Mketwa in the Bizana district of Eastern Cape.
Questions We Must Ask
Lois Law, project coordinator at the CPLO, said that these tragedies give rise to several questions.
What has made these latrines so dangerous?
Why were there no safety measures to prevent the children from falling in?
Why did these children drown?
She noted that if the latrines had been properly constructed and maintained, there would not have been sufficient effluent in them to cause drowning.
She further questioned why the supervision of the schoolyard was so lax that it was possible for both these children to be missing for some hours before being found.
Why in the period since the death of Michael Komape have no measures been put in place for the better maintenance of these toilets?
Why has there been so little oversight of a matter that is in plain sight?
And how many other children have had the emotionally traumatic and physiologically dangerous experience of falling into such a latrine, even if they did not drown?
Ms Law stated that just a quick Internet search shows that there is a science to the proper maintenance of this form of sanitation.
“If correctly constructed, appropriately managed, and used under proper supervision, these latrines would not constitute such a hazardous threat to the health and wellbeing of children,” she said.
Please support The Southern Cross
Your support means we can keep Catholic news alive so that many others will have free access to the high-quality, trustworthy news they deserve. We seek your support not simply to survive, but to grow in our mandate to share the Good News and keep you informed about your Church and Catholic faith.
Every contribution, however big or small, makes a difference. Support us today – it only takes a minute. Thank you.