The students at Gisambai Primary School in the Vihiga region of Western Kenya struggle daily to find clean water that will not make them and their teachers sick.
Every day they get up early to search for water because they share the responsibility of collecting it for 451 students and 18 teachers at their school.
Most often, water comes from a nearby unprotected spring, meaning they unknowingly collect contaminated water. When fellow students and teachers drink it, they suffer from waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea and typhoid.
Often, what was collected in the morning is not enough for the whole day, so students are sent out during valuable class time for more, leading to a lack of academic progress.
Carrying the water to school can be difficult and exhausting. 11-year-old student Lucky I. shared his experience: “As students, we always carry water to school for use. It is difficult to carry water with books at the same time. We also waste time going to look for water, interfering with [the] preparation of lesson time.”
The school currently has two small (11,000L total) rain tanks that work but do not provide nearly enough water for the large school population. They need more clean water to meet the daily needs of the school, and that is where we come in.What We Can Do: New Well
We conducted a hydrogeological survey at this school and the results indicated the water table beneath it is an ideal candidate for a borehole well. Due to a borehole well’s unique ability to tap into a safe, year-round water column, it will be poised to serve all of the water needs for this school’s large population, even through the dry months.
The school will help collect the needed construction materials such as sand, rocks, and water for mixing cement. They will also provide housing and meals for the work team, in addition to providing local laborers. We will complement their materials by providing an expert team of artisans and drilling professionals, tools, hardware, and the hand-pump. Once finished, water from the well will then be used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.Handwashing Stations
The student health club will oversee the two new handwashing stations we will provide, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The club leaders will fill the handwashing stations with water daily and make sure they are always supplied with a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.VIP Latrines
We will construct two triple-door latrine blocks using local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls and three doors will serve the boys. All of these new latrines will have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and to clean. And with a borehole right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More
We will hold a one-day intensive training session with students, teachers, and parents. This training will cover a wide range of topics including COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention; personal and environmental hygiene; and the operation and maintenance of the borehole, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a special emphasis on handwashing.
Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train, including participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, and asset-based community development. We will initiate a student health club, which will prepare students to lead other pupils into healthy habits at school and at home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions, and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good hygiene practices within the school including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.
We and the school strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve standards at this school, which will help lead to better student academic performance and will help unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.