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Championing Hygiene: Bidvest's supports the national school sanitation initiative

The dangers of pit toilets are wellknown in SA schools. It is an ongoing concern as children continue to face the nightmare risk of falling into the pits. Despite efforts by the authorities to change this situation, progress is slow and incidents continue to be reported.

With Bidvest's committed intention and purpose to create meaningful change, improve lives, and contribute positively to society, it made a decision that it cannot stand on the sidelines and watch this unfolding tragedy. Social transformation through economic upliftment of communities and businesses, and investment in education and health, are prerequisites at Bidvest. Strategic partnerships have been established with key stakeholders to gain scale, add value and entrench long-term relationships through common purpose. One of the examples of this is the work being done, alongside government, to implement a national initiative to support change in the current flawed schools' sanitation situation.

Bidvest has completed two pilot projects, with the handover to beneficiaries successfully achieved over the past year. AM Lembede Primary School in Parys, Free State, and Ethembeni Primary School in Daggakraal, Mpumalanga, were recipients of new and upgraded sanitation facilities, greatly enhancing the overall hygiene and convenience for learners and staff.

The innovative system used at the AM Lembede school connects to existing ablution facilities, treating and recycling water for reuse. It is not only an efficient and cost-saving measure, but also a step towards sustainability and dignity. The school leadership has expressed significant gratitude, saying that the upgrades had brought about an enormous change for the learners. With modern upgrades comes the necessity for training relating to cleaning and maintaining the new facilities, and cleaning staff are now equipped to upkeep these enhanced amenities properly. The new system uses as little as two litres of water, as opposed to the conventional nine litres usually required to flush a toilet. This translates into a significant saving and a dual benefit to not only the end user, but also the municipality and water service authorities. The system is designed to be compatible with a conventional sewer system and places far less strain on the sewage treatment plants because of the great reduction in the volume of water required for flushing.

The Ethembeni school needed a treatment plant to enable the school to make use of the existing waterborne ablution facilities originally constructed in 2021. Bidvest provided a next generation 'off the Water Grid' recirculation wastewater and sanitation treatment system. The installed system treats wastewater and kills harmful pathogens without the need for connections to sewers, treatment plants or water supply. Bidvest also arranged for the installation of the Backend Treatment Plant as well as solar PV panels, an inverter and lithium-ion battery. The solar energy will not only be used for the wastewater treatment plant, but will enable the school to benefit from excess energy generated by the solar PV panel during the day when the grid is available, making a significant contribution in reducing the school's energy costs.