Schools have sadly become graveyards of failed technologies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Go to many schools and you will see a few disused latrines off in a corner, or a broken handpump at the entrance. This is the result of poor programming and a failure to design school water and sanitation interventions with on-going management as well as operation and maintenance needs in mind. It's sad. These are wasted resources and they undermine children’s ability to fully engage at school. This short video shows a sanitation graveyard at Ayabaraya Primary School in Rwanda.

The video also highlights an alternative. Development agencies kept coming back to Ayabaraya with pit latrines which consistently failed. We are now trying something different – the school clearly can’t manage the latrines themselves as the graveyard visually demonstrates. So let’s not just build another toilet and add to the graveyard. Let’s try something new.

The video shows a new technology BUT most importantly it shows a new management model – the school will pay Rwanda Environment (REC) to keep the latrine functional over time. REC will collect the compost, address technical problems, and work with the school to keep the latrine operational so that these toilets do not fall into disrepair like all the others.

Success will be achieved by new thinking on system management, not by simply building more latrines and hoping that the school gets it right, someday. We will monitor this system (and others in Rwanda) for at least 10 years to let you know whether this latrine breaks the cycle of failure that has plagued Ayabaraya for years.

See Ned Breslin's blogs and other videos at

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