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  1. A total of

  2. donated
    (100% funded)

  3. to help improve
    Water & Sanitation

  4. in
    Papua New Guinea

Project successes

This project has met its aim to provide students at one rural school in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with access to toilets and clean, safe water for hand washing and drinking. Mongen Primary School is located in a rural community in PNG’s East Sepik Province. The school has 337 students (150 girls and 187 boys) and nine teachers. 

This project is part of a broader community water, sanitation and hygiene program being delivered by WaterAid and its local partners in the East Sepik Province of PNG.

Before the project

Prior to this project, the school had no on-site water supply system for students and three very dilapidated toilets shared by all the students. The toilets were open pit toilets constructed from rotting wood with large gaps between the slabs that made them dangerous to use and ineffective at stopping disease transmission from flies and rodents. One of the toilets had been abandoned altogether and was almost completely camouflaged by the surrounding undergrowth when our project team visited - see photo below

After the project

Thanks to the support of Footprints Network donors, this project constructed new ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilets

These toilets are specially designed with vent pipes and cement slabs to minimise bad smells and to trap flies and other flying insects below in the pit – a key vector of disease. The cement slabs are also much easier to keep clean and maintain than toilets made out of traditional bush materials. 

This was the first time the staff and students had seen VIP toilets and they were very impressed with the design. The boys were so happy with their new toilets that they started using them before they were even finished!

The Headmaster and teachers were very positive about their new toilets and took the initiative to construct additional toilets with a purpose-made mould that WaterAid left behind at the school. 

Since the project was completed, the school has constructed four more toilets using their new skills and mould, including a teachers’ toilet. 
In Papua New Guinea, adolescent girls often stay home from school when they are menstruating because they do not have a private place to wash. This project also provided a shower block for the girls in response to these needs. 

The girls shower room is accessed via the toilet which means girls can use it discretely and without drawing attention to themselves. All of the older girls appreciated this design consideration! We anticipate that these new facilities, together with the toilets, will make a big impact on the girls’ decision to stay in school past adolescence.

Photo: Girls' wash room under construction

The project was also able to provide the school with a sustainable and safe drinking water supply. The students had previously had to leave school to collect water for drinking and never practiced hand washing as there was no convenient source nearby. 

Now the students are able to access sufficient clean, safe water for drinking and hand washing from a 5,000L rainwater tank. 

Photo: Constructing the new rainwater harvesting system at Mongen Primary School

Four taps were also installed, one for drinking, two for hand washing and one within the girls’ washroom for discretion.  
Lastly, the project staff undertook a number of interactive activities with staff and students designed to reinforce messages  around hygiene and hand washing. Topics included how disease is spread, critical times for hand washing and proper use and maintenance of latrines to ensure cleanliness.    

The school board of management and teaching staff have now taken on responsibility for maintaining their new infrastructure and developed a roster accordingly. 

Photo: Students participating in hygiene promotion activities that emphasise hand washing at key times


This project was carried out by Integrated Rural Development Initiative (IRDI), one of WaterAid’s local partner organisations in PNG. IRDI is a very small local NGO that undertakes community water, sanitation and hygiene projects in East Sepik Province that was established in 2012. WaterAid provides ongoing technical and organisational support to IRDI as part of our commitment to strengthening the local PNG water, sanitation and hygiene sector.  

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