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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Schools battle toilet trespassers
By Abraham Odeke
BBC, Tororo, eastern Uganda

Pit latrine
The government wants the children to benefit from the latrines
Teachers and officials in Uganda are desperately trying to flush out the villagers who are breaking into schools to use their toilets.

Some break padlocks and brave barbed wire to use the facilities meant for children, because they do not have pit latrines in their own homes.

The extra use means the school toilets fill up fast and new ones must be dug.

One teacher said the trespassers should be arrested and paraded naked in front of the children to discourage others.

Charles Iroota, a teacher from Atiri primary school in eastern Uganda, said most people who live nearby do not have their own toilets and so break in to use the school facilities.

Every person who is arrested should be made to dig a pit latrine at their own home.
Okongo Ignatious Boma
Tororo District Council Chairman
"These people just trespass and defecate even on the compound. From the doorway, you find faeces up to inside the latrines," he said.

Administrators in primary schools in Jinja, Kamuli, Iganga, Tororo, Manafa, Pallisa and other districts in eastern Uganda made the same complaint.

'Serious problem'

Local social worker Saraha Akello says it is shameful that people who spend money on nice clothes and even cars have not bothered to build a pit latrine in their home.

We should [see] how we can help them have their own latrines
Dr David Okumu
Tororo District Director of Health Services
"A man in a neck-tie and a coat during the day, trespassing in pit latrines. It's very disappointing indeed," she said.

"If you can't take care of your own faeces, how can you be sure you are taking good care of yourself?"

The district officials have asked the police and the other law enforcement officers to cooperate with the head teachers in flushing out the culprits.

Tororo District Council Chairman Okongo Ignatious Boma says those who are using the school facilities should be arrested for criminal trespass.

"It is a very serious problem," he said.

"Every person who is arrested should be made to dig a pit latrine at their own home."

But to the surprise of the head teachers and the district politicians, health officials say it is encouraging that villagers who used to use "bush toilets" are now appreciating latrines.


Tororo District Director of Health Services Dr David Okumu says that 75% of the diseases he sees are related to poor sanitation.

"If now people are looking for pit latrines, even in schools, we should not arrest them.

"We should [see] how we can help them have their own latrines. Let us see that in the next financial year, the question of sanitation is given the importance it deserves."

Since 1986, the government has been carrying out a special programme to build separate pit latrines for the girls and boys in primary schools.

Country profile: Uganda
25 Feb 06 |  Country profiles

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