Uttar Amtalia Gita Rani Vidyabhavan High School, West Bengal

GWA Empowerment Stories Series









Submitted by: SarBodaya Sangha, Ajaya


  1. Name of the Organization: SARBODAY SANGHA, AJAYA

  3. Project Period:2018-19
  4. Total Grant: Mr. Amar &Mrs. Sheila Banerjee (Through GWA)

Education is the backbone of a nation and children are the future of our society. Ensuring a healthy learning environment is a must in the development of any society. In the Purba Medinipur District of West Bengal, there are 736 high schools with large student populations, but insufficient water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities. The existing sanitary infrastructures in these schools are in various levels of disrepair and running water is often unavailable meaning the students remain at school from five to six hours a day without proper WASH facilities  resulting in unhygienic conditions. Girls in particular struggle with a lack of water, disposal facilities, and privacy during menstruation. As a result, they become unwilling to attend school while they are menstruating, leading to many lost school days each year, compounded year after year, leaving these young girls with fewer educational hours by the time they reach adulthood, and as a result, fewer employment opportunities, and greater economic challenges.  Girls who have begun menstruating might even take the dramatic step of dropping out of school.

The proposed project, named School Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education Program focuses on WASH education in schools. It’s goal is to ensure safer and more effective water, sanitation health and hygiene facilities for the students by providing both infrastructure and educational support geared to adopting better hygiene practices by the students and their teachers.  The hope is that in addition to changing their own behavior, the students will bring these lessons home to their families thereby creating a positive societal change as well.  Safe WASH facilities will lessen water borne diseases and health hazards among the community members, resulting in a healthier society.

The project will be supported jointly by the school and Global Water Alliance, USA.  The applicant NGO, Sarboday Sangha (SS), will be responsible for the implementation of the project and will take the initiative for the convergence of school funds and motivate the school to contribute their parts to complete the project in a timely fashion.

Established in 1966, Uttar Amtalia Gitarani Vidyabhavan High School is a Co-ed school situated in Amtalia village near the Bay of Bengal1  with 1032 students (Boys – 483, Girls- 549) and 15 teachers (Male – 12; Female – 3). The school infrastructure was being used for several purposes yet, in the beginning the water and sanitation facilities were in very poor condition:  boys used to go to nearby fields and girls had no other choices,  creating too much of a problem for the girls during their menstruation, leading to high rates of absenteeism. In the beginning the students used to fetch water from nearby ponds which was some distance from the school, but eventually, the school authority realized the need for creating WASH facilities and constructed one school sanitary block with urinals, toilets, pipelines, etc. by mobilizing funds from different sources. Gradually, however, the sanitary block became unusable due to unavailability of water and improper management and maintenance. A retired teacher donated funds for installation of one submersible pump, but pipe line system was not connected properly, further damaging sanitary block. The condition of the sanitary block deteriorated over time and the students were forced to use dirty and unhygienic toilets. The floor of the block was cracked, and the pipe lines as well as many of the taps were broken. Due to shortage of water and improper maintenance, the outlets also became blocked and eventually the entire system became nonfunctional.

Donors and Participants:
Total Cost: Rs. 3,80,000.00

  • Donors: Amar & Sheila Banerjee from Canada (Through GWA) – Rs. 2,00,000
  • Local Participants: Uttar Amtalia Gita Rani Vidyabhavan Rs. 1,80,000.00

Completed Tasks:

  1. Repair & renovation of sanitary block for both boys and girls separately;
  2. Construction of incinerator with provision of sanitary napkin disposal for adolescent girls;
  3. Installation of new tube well with submersible pump, overhead storage tanks, water and sanitation pipes and plumbing fixtures;
  4. Construction of hand washing and drinking water stations;
  5. Formation and strengthening of WATSAN committee to ensure sustainability of the school sanitary block.

Sustainability of the Project and Ownership of beneficiaries:
From the very beginning, school authorities, students and teachers were involved in the planning and implementation process and contribute 25% percent of the renovation andrepair costs  to form a WATSAN committee with teacher and student representatives taking 100% of the responsibility  for maintenance of the sanitary block & water system of the school

Above: Sanitation Block for boys

Above: Sanitation Block for girls

Infrastructure and asset maintenance:
A WATSAN committee was formed by the students & teachers consisting of 10 boys & 10 girls with two teachers, one male & one female. A user fee of Rs.3/- per months is decided by the Student & Management committee. The WATSAN committee was responsible for maintenance and cleanliness of the toilet and necessary repairs as and when required. The committee opened a bank account to deposit collected tariffs and generate a maintenance fund.

Health and hygiene issues was introduced in the school syllabus for hygiene promotion among the students.  The subjects were:  safe water handling; hand washing with soap at critical times; proper use of toilets; spread of water and vector borne disease; and personal hygiene including menstrual hygiene.

A Hygiene Educator for Sarboday Sangha also visits the school & conducts the hygiene education session twice in a month.

The WATSAN committee members monitor the use of the sanitary blocks and follow up by assuring maintenance of hygienic practices by the students. They conduct periodic meetings and ensure the following:

  • Maintenance and follow up/registering of WATSAN committee meeting resolution
  • Making soap available in latrines and hand washing station;
  • Maintaining cleanliness in the toilet block;
  • Checking toilet performance at regular intervals by WATSAN committee
  • Checking water quality of drinking water station will be checked on a regular basis.

Major Takeaways:

  • Duration: Sarboday Sangha realized that one-year timeframe allotted for execution of all projects was a severe constraint in implementing a project of this nature.
  • Number of target beneficiaries:Every student and teacher at the school benefited from this project.
  • Menstrual management: The lack of facilities and disposal for girls menstruating became a priority. As awareness grew, the demand for facilities also increased and infrastructural deficiencies like changing rooms and incinerators were built into the plans. By providing supportive infrastructure the project organizers encouraged behavioral change which led to sustainable changes. At home, children were burying menstrual waste so incineration was a welcome change.
  • Attendance: Because of the new facilities, girls’ attendance during menstruation has increased, taboos are gradually fading, the girls are becoming more confident, and the silence around the topic of menstruation has given way to open discussion, one of the most important learning aspects of the program. By providing proper scientific information to stakeholders, long run health outcomes have been improved.

Linkage and Advocacy:
Meeting and exchange of ideas were conducted with the local body of Gram Panchayet (Local Village Government) and efforts were undertaken to link the services with block health initiatives.
In addition, sensitization of the school authorities and the teachers to issues such as maintenance of the WASH facilities and the importance of hand washing) were successfully conducted and will ensure sustainability of the program.


  1. Development of a self-sustaining drinking water and sanitation system in the schools benefitting the students.
  2. Promotion of an effective learning environment where children get a hygienic and clean environment and will adopt better hygiene practices as follow:
  • Hand washing with soap after defecation and both prior to and after meals.
  • Safe disposal of human waste, solid and liquid.
  • Safe menstrual hygiene management.
  • Practice of providing safe drinking water.
  1. Provision of private sanitary facilities will encourage the girl students to attend school, reducing the drop out numbers of girls.
  2. A unique entry of schools into the broader community WASH programs. Every student will act as a change agent and will motivate parents and people of the community to adopt better hygiene practices.