Above: The old school in a decrepit state
Biyo Dhacay Primary School is one of the oldest schools in Hargeisa town in Somaliland. Since 1954 the school grew from four classrooms to eleven classrooms, with a current student population of 1,140 students (of whom 340 are girls) in grades 1-8. Over the years the school’s condition became increasingly worse with broken windows and doors, falling ceilings and no desks to encourage learning. The school also suffered from insufficient water or sanitation services for teachers or students: one latrine for every 170 girls and one latrine for every 400 boys. Only the teacher’s washing facility allowed for hand washing. Young girls in Somalia are particularly impacted by poor sanitation services because the community culture calls for absolute privacy in latrine use. Students started leaving lessons to search for drinking water and latrine facilities. Then, enrollment rates for girls began to decline.
Photo: Mercy Corps
Above: A rejuvenated Biyo Dhacay Primary School
Today, with support from USAID’s School Environment and Education Development for Somalia –SEEDS—initiative, the old school has been transformed. The school’s headmaster, Mohamud Hassan Aden, smiles broadly as he monitors the progress of the school’s rehabilitation. When the school term opens on September 1, 2009, eager learners will attend a school that sports adequate water and sanitation facilities and freshly painted classrooms with desks. Hand washing basins with clean water and soap will be available in now ample—and clean-- toilet facilities for boys and girls. Project activities will reinforce the importance of daily personal hygiene both at home and within the school setting. Refuse will be disposed of daily and safely, and potable water will be available on the school premises at all times. Thanks to USAID, implementing partner Mercy Corps and local partners, Biyo Dhacay Primary School represents just one of 250 schools in Somaliland, Puntland and Southern Somalia that will benefit from USAID’s SEEDS program to provide sustainable water and sanitation services to 20,000 students in Somalia.