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Terre des hommes launches the first guide for building sanitary facilities in rural schools in Romania

2020-04-07

Terre des hommes Romania has developed, together with Arhipera Association, the "Guide for equipping schools in rural areas with interior sanitary facilities", a first tool of this kind to support entities that must offer proper sanitary conditions to children.

According to the Ministry of National Education in Romania, in 2019, 1180 schools had unfit sanitary facilities, with improper conditions or outdoor toilets. Our "Child Rights Now!" report revealed that more than a third of schools in Romania have inadequate facilities.

"Children everywhere, in Romania including, have the right to safe, clean and well-built toilets. The lack of access to these basic sanitation facilities can have serious consequences for their present and future lives, affecting their health, school activities and general standard of living. I think this guide, besides providing technical insights for architects, construction workers, schools etc., is a useful read also for NGOs dealing with Child Rights, as they can find out more about challenges faced, but also solutions posed by children, especially in rural areas of Romania", says Kirsten Theuns, Head of Eastern Europe Delegation.

The free guide is meant to encourage sustainable investments and prevent the waste of public resources, as the construction of a proper sanitary facility for a school costs at least 45.000 euros. On the other hand, it is important that all entities (public and private) realize the effects of inappropriate sanitary conditions on children’s lives.

In the past few years, in some rural areas, sanitary facilities were built as extensions of the school building, but these outbuildings often pose architectural and technical problems, which directly impact the lives of children (bullying, health issues and school dropout):

  • they are far from the school building (the child has to take more than a few steps in the cold and sometimes darkness, which brings risks of violence among children);
  • lack of hygiene and comfort (health issues);
  • access is difficult or impossible for children with physical disabilities (who often drop out of school).

Building a sanitary facility for a school must be subject to specific architectural rules and quality standards, which ensure the physical safety, dignity and health of children. The author of the guide, architect conf. dr. Lorin Niculae (University of Architecture and Urbanism "Ion Mincu", Bucharest), offers examples of errors that must be avoided: the orientation of the doors (or separating walls), which might allow visibility inside (lack of privacy) and favour aggression.

"Making poor investments is much more dangerous than the current situation", says architect Lorin Niculae. 

The guide, providing a series of good practices and standards, is a useful tool for:

  • local authorities, as investors, legislative and executive bodies;
  • architects and engineers, construction workers and private equipment suppliers in education;
  • school principals and teachers in rural and urban areas;
  • parents and children, who must know their rights and claim them;
  • NGOs.

A few copies of guide have already been sent to the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (National Authority for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Children and Adoptions), The Ministry of Public Health, The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, and to several mayors – the main authorities responsible for schools in Romania.

Tdh encourages all relevant actors to consult the guide before they decide to invest or contribute to building sanitary facilies in schools, whether in rural or urban areas. The 180-page guide (in Romanian) is available (free) online on the Tdh Romania website and upon request in print version (write at rou.office@tdh.ch). 

The guide is one of the results of the "SHINE: Support for Health, Social Infrastructure and Education" project, which has been implemented by Tdh in the past 3 years, for the benefit of children in Bacau County (Romania), one of the poorest regions in the country. Within this project, Tdh has made 50 investments in school infrastructure, including a few sanitary facilies, together with its partners and with financial support from Fondation Botnar-Switzerland.

(Sanitary facility built in SHINE project)

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About Terre des hommes Foundation in Romania

Terre des hommes, the leading Swiss organization for children's aid, has been active in Romania for the past 28 years, protecting the rights of children. Through our strategic projects, we strengthen the child protection system and improve opportunities for underprivileged children and their families. We are specialized in community integrated services, child and youth participation, social inclusion, and psychosocial support. Our main intervention areas are child protection, children and youth affected by migration, and children in contact with the law. Building the resilience of children and youth and ensuring their participation in decision-making are key elements of our work. In 2019, over 16.000 children have benefited from our projects.

Contact: Iulia Stancu, Communication Officer Terre des hommes Romania, iulia.stancu@tdh.chwww.tdh.ro; https://www.facebook.com/TdhRomania/

About the author of the Guide

Lorin Niculae is professor at the Ion Mincu University of Architecture in Bucharest, and a University Doctor in participatory architecture. He is also the founder and president of Arhipera Association, a non-profit independent organisation that works to improve the living conditions of vulnerable groups in poor communities, by an integrated approach. Arhipera has developed a methodology, a model and an intervention policy in vulnerable communities, and promotes the strategic principles of an inclusive society that changes social systems, fights against segregation and marginalization of vulnerable groups. 

Contact: www.arhipera.ro; https://www.facebook.com/arhipera; lorin@arhipera.ro