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Tippy-Taps, Toilets and Smiles:

An Update from schools in La Guajira, Colombia
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Photo: WaterAid/ Nathalie Fernandes

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May 16, 2017

Despite the harsh desert-like conditions of La Guajira, members of the rural Wayúu community always keep an open heart and share the warmest smiles. With people at the center of every intervention and project, we continue to build upon Aguayuda’s legacy—strengthening existing projects and developing new ones.

Schools are one of the priority areas for our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions. Here’s a closer look at the impact of your support in Wayuuma’ana’, La Guajira.

Students at the Wayuuma’ana School. Photo: WaterAid/ Nathalie Fernandes

When you walk into the school in Wayuuma’ana, you can’t help but be surprised by how small it is. Seventy-one students are taught in only two classrooms. One classroom houses first through third graders, and in the other, fourth through sixth. Three teachers go from desk to desk setting assignments for groups of children in each grade. Besides the lack of space, it feels like any other school. The students are there to learn, be playful, and simply be kids. But, when you look closer, there is no electricity, and before the recent WaterAid project, there were no bathrooms and no access to water.

Daut, Program Officer, WaterAid Colombia, teaches students how to use the “Tippy Tap”. Photo: WaterAid/ Nathalie Fernandes

With our partner, GiveLove, we have built two dry bathrooms for the school. A dry bathroom looks like a regular bathroom but instead of water in the toilets there is a mixture of ash and leaves that help break down the waste into compost. We held workshops to teach the students and teachers how to use, clean and care for the bathrooms. Prior to project completion, students would either hold it for the entire school day or go home to use the bathroom and not return. The smaller kids would have to relieve themselves in the bushes near the school. But now, students have access to the new bathrooms as well as “Tippy Taps”, to wash their hands.

Students at La Gloria School in Manaure, Colombia on World Water Day. Photo: WaterAid/ Nathalie Fernandes

We are also working with La Gloria School in Manaure. Although the facilities are quite new, the school lacked access to clean and safe water before WaterAid’s project in 2016. Driving up to the school you’ll notice how it sticks out in comparison to the neighboring humble homes. And while there is still not enough space for the 700 students in the classrooms, they can now count on access to clean water in the school after the rehabilitation of existing facilities and the addition of handwashing stations.

With your support, we will reach more schools and communities in Colombia. Stay tuned as we continue sharing more updates from the field!