Pjeter Arbnori School Bathroom and Water System Project – Albania

This project is made possible through the partnership of Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association.
This is a project under the LET GIRLS LEARN Program, a collaboration of First Lady Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps to expand access to education for girls around the world!

Fushë-Arrëz, Pukë District, Albania

Community Description
Fushë-Arrëz is a small town of about 5,000 people located in the north of Albania.   It is situated high in the mountains and surrounded by forest.  During the communist era, the area was developed as the main source of lumber for the country. The ruins of the factories line the small river that flows along the outside of the town.  Since the fall of communism, the area has become one of the poorest regions in Albania and the residents rely heavily on outside aid, mainly from the Catholic Church.  Though poor, the community has tremendous pride in their culture and traditions.  The cultural center in Fushë-Arrëz is very active and the community hosts a traditional music and dance festival for children every spring, inviting schools from all over Albania and Kosovo to participate.

Problem Addressed
The restrooms of Pjeter Arbnori 9 Vjecare are in desperate need of repair.  The school serves about 520 students (grades 1 through 9) and has one restroom for girls and one restroom for boys.  Each restroom has 5 stalls with Turkish style toilets.  There is neither running water nor sinks in either of the restrooms.  The town is on a watering schedule and the school only receives water for one hour a day during operating hours.  There are metal barrels filled with water in each restroom to be used for hand washing or to carry over to flush the toilets.  The barrels freeze during winter.  Sharing barrels of stagnant water to wash hands after using the toilet runs a very real risk of spreading illness throughout school and community.  There are no doors on any of the stalls in the boy’s restroom while the doors in the girl’s restroom are rotting. Toilets are heavily damaged and six of the ten need to be replaced.  The floors, walls, and windows are also heavily damaged need to be repaired.

Several girls refuse to use the restroom at their school.  One boy said he would rather have a working restroom than a new gym and described the restroom as a “catastrophe”.

Project Description
This project will provide around 500 students between the ages of 6 and 15 with safe, secure and sanitary conditions in the restrooms at their school. This project will connect the restrooms to the water deposit to allow for running water, which is currently lacking. Sinks will be placed in each of the restrooms for the first time and will be connected to the water deposit in order to provide safe and sanitary conditions. Six of the ten toilets will be replaced and all will be connected to the water deposit allowing them to be flushable. All of the stall doors will be replaced to ensure the safety and privacy of the students. The floors, walls, and windows will also be repaired.

The funds provided by Water Charity will help with the purchase of new materials and labor.  About 30% of the cost of the project will come directly from the “bashkia” (municipality).

Project Impact
About 500 students plus teachers, parents and guests.

Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Brian Bond

Monitoring and Maintenance
Monitoring and maintenance will be provided by the vigilant janitors of the school.

This project has the full support of the “bashkia” or town hall. The newly elected mayor says his number one concern for the school is the state of the restrooms. The ambitious 100 Water Projects Program that Water Charity has taken on in Albania has come at precisely the right time for Fushë-Arrëz and Pjeter Arbnori 9-Vjecare. All physical labor will be provided by the bashkia with the help of a hired plumbing professional.

This project is part of the LET GIRLS LEARN program sponsored by FLOTUS Michelle Obama.  It is intended to have a positive effect in keeping girls in school after they reach adolescence.  Lack of clean facilities is a leading cause of women dropping out of school. Water Charity is proud to have sponsored the very first LGL project and continues to be a leading contributor to the program, as evidenced by projects like this one.

As an LGL project, this falls under our 100 Water Projects Program – Albania, as well as our larger Let Girls Learn Initiative – Worldwide.

This project has been concluded.