Bucket or dry toilet: who decides what to buy, and how parents can influence the situation.

Since September, half of Ukrainian schools have at least partially started working offline. A mandatory condition for this is the availability of shelter, either in the institution itself or near it. Before the beginning of the academic year, these shelters were inspected by a special commission of representatives of local authorities, employees of the State Emergency Service, as well as educators, doctors, and civil protection specialists. In the first month of study, already children and teachers were the ones to inspect them. Unfortunately, in some schools and kindergartens, shelters were far from being as comfortable as in the photos in the press releases of city councils. One of the reasons is how toilets were arranged in basements.

Buckets in Line

In mid-September, Kyiv activist Serhii Pasyuta shared a photo of a shelter on Facebook, where buckets stood as toilets in one row. Similar photos from other institutions have appeared. Serhii checked procurement transactions in Prozorro, and it turned out that buckets for restrooms in shelters were purchased in at least two districts of the city — Desnyanskyi and Solomianskyi — for a total of more than 130 schools and kindergartens.

туалети укриттях шкіл Київ
Sourse: Serhiy Pasiuta facebook

Most parents are outraged by such an arrangement, but there are those who believe that it is still better than nothing. Valentyn Mondryivskyi, Deputy Head of the Kyiv City State Administration for Education, noted that these may be temporary decisions while more complex restrooms are set up in institutions, but they also need to be finalized so that they are not buckets in a row as well. So far, he called it an attempt to get out of the situation in the current conditions because there was not enough time for arrangement.

Not Only in Kyiv

In all educational institutions where there were no toilets in shelters, two options were available: either put dry toilets, the tanks of which must be cleaned separately, or set up stationary restrooms. The latter option is costly and complex, especially for schools and kindergartens with an old planning because it provides for the construction of water supply and sanitation.

Therefore, for the most part, faster and cheaper solutions were found for educational institutions. Someone chose dry toilets, and someone chose special or standard buckets. In Poltava, using plastic bags as a toilet for the smallest schoolchildren was discussed.

Шкількі укриття Луцька
Sourse: https://pershyj.com

According to our estimates, from February 24 to September 20, educational institutions purchased 2,538 portable dry toilets for UAH 12.5 mln and 2,320 plastic toilet buckets for UAH 695,000. 

Half of portable dry toilets were bought in Kyiv Oblast — 1,237 items for UAH 6.5 mln. Lviv region comes second — 185 items for UAH 674,000, Chernihiv region — third with 173 items for UAH 723,000.

Kyiv region is also a leader in terms of the number of purchased plastic toilet buckets, in total 357 items for UAH 118,000. A lot of them were also purchased in Khmelnytskyi Oblast — 280 items for UAH 68,000, and Chernivtsi Oblast — 275 items for UAH 82,000.

TI Ukraine: procurement of toilets for school shelters
Infographics by TI Ukraine

Considering the difference between the indicators of Kyiv and other oblasts, we can assume that in almost all oblasts we cannot see the full picture of toilet procurement. Since these agreements concerned the arrangement of shelters, procuring entities had the right to sign them directly without procedures and to publish later. Therefore, to find out exactly what and for how much was purchased for your child’s school, we recommend writing a request for information. We cover it at the end of this text.

Dry Toilets

Portable dry toilets are small portable toilets that do not need to be connected to sewers. They collect the sewage in a special tank. What happens to it next depends on the type of toilet — it is either mixed with peat, dried using electricity, or dissolved with the help of special chemicals. By the way, the latter type is distinguished separately because in fact, the chemicals that are poured into the toilets are not so organic.

Peat toilets were purchased, for example, by the Department of Education of the Krasnopil Village Council and Volodymyr-Volynskyi School No.1. But portable chemical toilets are much more popular.

The lion’s share of these toilets fell on Thetford Porta Potti. Depending on the model, they were bought at the following price:

Porta Potti
Porta Potti dry toilet

The cost of the cheapest chemical portable toilet, which we found, was UAH 1,900.  However, neither the model nor the brand was specified in the contract.

Liquids for the chemical toilet, depending on the purpose, brand and volume, were bought at a price from UAH 290 to 590/liter.

Plastic Bucket Toilets

In procurement transactions, procuring entities sometimes call buckets biotoilets. However, they have virtually nothing in common. It’s just a plastic bucket with a lid and a seat.

Such devices cost UAH 270400. The cost depends on the volume of the bucket and the brand.

What Are the General Requirements for Toilets in School Shelters?

The State Emergency Service developed recommendations on the arrangement of shelters. The only requirement for toilets in them is the presence of removable tanks for sewage that close tightly (for unsewered buildings and structures).

Dry toilets are certainly a better option than buckets. However, an even more acute problem now is the absence of at least some partitions. After all, privacy in the restroom is one of the basic needs. Currently, partitions and doors are provided only in requirements for regular school toilets. They were fully added to the sanitary regulations in 2019, in particular to ensure the realization of the right to the dignity of the child. Since then, funds from the remainder of the educational subvention have been allocated for the arrangement of comfortable toilets in schools. However, there is no requirement for separate toilet areas in the recommendations of the State Emergency Service on the arrangement of shelters. Perhaps that is why partitions and privacy screens are not purchased for all educational institutions. 

Who Is Responsible for Arranging a Shelter in a School or Kindergarten?

The founder is responsible for the arrangement of a shelter in the educational institution, that is, in almost all cases — the local council. It should allocate funds for schools and kindergartens from the local budget. Procurement is carried out either by the schools and kindergartens themselves or by the administrations, offices, or departments of education. The one who conducts the procurement decides what exactly to purchase.

However, even if not the school itself, but the education department manages the arrangement of a shelter, the principal’s activity affects how this will be implemented.

Parents can also influence what the shelter will look like in their child’s school. Olena Parfionova, co-founder of the Parents SOS movement, urged to check the state of protective premises in schools in June.

What Can Parents Do?

First of all, if you want to find out what has already been purchased for the shelter, it is worth looking at procurement in Prozorro.

You need to find out who purchases the necessary things for your school or kindergarten, and then set a filter by the appropriate EDRPOU code of this institution. Next, you can either view all procurement transactions or use keywords to search. We recommend using the following request: ((*toilet?*)|(*restroom?*)) — asterisks and additional signs will help consider different word cases.

This will allow you to see if something for the restroom in the shelter was purchased, from whom, for how much, and for which educational institutions. If the search did not yield any results, it will be useful to write a request to the school principal with the question of how the institution solved the toilet issue. If the procurement is carried out by the department of education, it may be necessary to write a request to it as well. Questions, for example, may include the following:

  1. How is the restroom organized in the shelter of the educational institution? How much money was spent on this, how were the necessary goods and/or works procured?
  2. Why was it decided to buy buckets rather than chemical or dry toilets? (In case buckets have been purchased)
  3. Have you bought/planned to purchase privacy screens or other types of partitions for restrooms in shelters?
  4. Has a request been submitted for the purchase of chemical or dry toilets for shelter? (Questions to the principal of the school or kindergarten, if the procurement is carried out by the administration/office/department of education)

These are just examples, and depending on the specific situation, the questions may be quite different. When the situation becomes clearer, the director or department of education can be urged to fund needs that are not yet closed. Tips on how to write requests, search for procurement transactions on DOZORRO, and generally control school finances can be found in the TI Ukraine Handbook for parents.


The material was created with the support of USAID / UK aid project “Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services / TAPAS”

Source: rubryka.com