April, 2021: Ibokolo Primary School Project Complete!
We are excited to share that Ibokolo Primary School in Kenya now has access to a new safe, clean water source thanks to the completion of their new borehole well! Students and staff are already using the well’s flowing water, which will provide them with a reliable water source for all of their daily needs.
Students pump and splash water at the new well.
We installed new latrines and handwashing stations for students, and we trained the school on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention. These components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.
Students drink clean water from the well.
"Access to reliable, safe water translates to good health, so with good health, I will perform better as opposed to before when you had to miss routine school activities because of attending to medications," said student Daisy.
"Since I will not be carrying water from home to school or going outside the school compound to fetch water, my performance will improve greatly because the time which I could have wasted going for water will be utilized for studies."
Handwashing at the well
Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new well on campus.
"Access to reliable, safe water will translate to good health, so l am very optimistic that the challenges of waterborne and water-related diseases which we used to experience before from consuming water from unknown water sources will be no more. The water point will impact me much positively because I will not be purchasing bottled water for drinking. More so, I will get water for use from within my proximity anytime I am in need of it," said Headteacher Augustine Oduor.
Headteacher Augustine Oduor
"The water point will help us a lot. One, we will be expecting great performance in the school because pupils will not be wasting their precious time going to fetch water outside the school compound. Also, the rate of absenteeism in the school will reduce greatly because water-related diseases will have been curbed."
Headteacher Oduor tries out the pump at the handing-over celebration.
How We Got the Water Flowing
Parents, staff, and students all played a part in this well’s success. After determining the best site for the well through a hydrogeological survey, we obtained approval and a license through the government to begin drilling the new well. After awaiting this project since Kenya's national coronavirus-related school closures last year, the school and we were eager to see this borehole drilled!
To prepare for the project, the school helped collect fine sand and water for our artisans to make cement. When everything was ready, and the students went home from class for the weekend (drilling is a very loud process!), our drill team and staff arrived at the school to begin work.
Assembling tools for drilling
The drilling process can take up to three consecutive days to complete due to this region’s hard bedrock, so when the drill team arrived, they set up a small camp where they could rest and refuel in shifts near the drill rig. The school’s kitchen staff and a few parents helped provide meals for the team, while the school provided a safe place for the artisans’ accommodations and materials. People of all ages came to watch the well’s progress throughout each day.
Drilling commenced with excitement in the air. As the rig progressed, the team drove down a temporary casing to keep the walls from collapsing. We continued drilling to reach a final depth of 83 meters with a final static water level of 18 meters.
Drill rig in action
The team replaced the temporary casing with a permanent version and then moved to bail out the dirty water at the bottom of the well created in the drilling process. They installed the pipes and flushed them, tested the well’s yield, and chlorinated the water.
Director Catherine Chepkemoi and team conduct a yield test.
Following chlorination, we constructed a cement well pad to seal off the well from any ground-level contaminants. The pad includes tiles beneath the drawing area to help protect the cement from the water's erosive force and a short drainage channel to carry spilled water away from the pump, preventing standing water at the access point. At the end of the drainage channel, we also dug a soak pit that helps absorb the runoff into the ground, further eliminating stagnant water.
Well pad and soak pit construction
When the well pad was dry, we installed a new stainless steel AfriDev handpump and took a water quality test to send to a government lab. The results came back announcing that this water is safe for drinking!
Clean water flows from the completed well.
When the students and teachers arrived back at school, their enthusiasm for this much-anticipated project was overwhelming. We officially handed over the new borehole to the school in the presence of parents, school board members, teachers, pupils and invited guests together with our implementing team and regional office staff. The event was an excellent chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we have given and remind them of our continued support as they develop.
The Chief cuts the ribbon to the well during the handing-over ceremony.
We tied the water point with a blue and white ribbon which was to be cut by the area chief to mark the well officially open for use. After the ribbon-cutting, the area chief began pumping water. Simultaneously, she was surrounded by songs and dances from pupils, teachers, and parents—people celebrated by washing their hands, drinking clean well water from a glass, and splashing water.
Enjoying the official first drops of clean water from the pump.
This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, three for the girls and three for the boys. We constructed the latrines last year before putting the remaining construction on pause due to the pandemic.
Posing in front of the new girls' latrines (pre-pandemic).
These new latrines have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean, locking doors for safety and privacy, and vents designed to keep air flowing up and out through the roof. With a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.
Boys pose next to their new latrines (pre-pandemic).
The two handwashing stations were set up during the initial training following the latrines' completion and handed over to the student health club. These were placed outside of the girls’ and boys’ latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use. Health club members will teach other students how to wash their hands at the stations properly, make sure the stations are filled with water, and ensure that there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash available.
Students handwashing at training (pre-pandemic).
We held hygiene and sanitation training in two parts with this school. We conducted the first part of training when we finished constructing their latrines last year, just before schools closed nationwide in Kenya due to the pandemic. We then held the second part after completing the borehole, including a refresher on the first session's topics.
We scheduled the training with the school staff's help, who ensured that the date would be convenient for the students and teachers. When the training day arrived, facilitators Joan Were and Jonathan Mutai deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty-one students and teachers attended the training, which we held outside under a mango tree's shade within the school compound.
Trainer Jonathan leads the handwashing exercise (pre-pandemic).
In the second training, we focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics. These included refreshers on personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights, operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, handwashing stations; and leadership and governance. During the latter, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club.
Small group activities (pre-pandemic).
The club will be significantly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at school. It will encourage good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community. We involved stretches, dances, and physical activities between each topic to keep the pupils’ energy up and their minds active. By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.
Dental hygiene session (pre-pandemic).
"I personally learned a lot from today's training, especially on dental hygiene. For me, I have been wasting my toothpaste, thinking that applying a lot of it will give a better result. It's not until today when I learned the correct way of doing things. For instance, the ten steps of handwashing and proper tooth brushing without injuring the gums. The knowledge gained will impact me greatly because I will be doing things as required and not as I knew," said student Joy, the elected Secretary of the student health club.
"Training was very valuable to me. It comes at the right time when things have to be done with know-how, and not only in the school but also at our various homes. The importance of washing hands with soap is something that most people in the village don't know. The knowledge gained will not only be helpful to me alone, but I will also have a duty to disseminate the same information to my siblings and the rest in the community," said pupil Jeff, referring specifically to the second session of training on COVID-19 prevention.
We asked Jeff what it was like to be at home for most of the last year due to Kenya's national coronavirus-related school closures and what it has been like coming back to school.
"I was so disappointed to miss going to school because, from that period, I missed interacting with my friends, playing together, and more so, I missed school routine activities. The very worst thing was that no one was in a position to tell or know the period closure of the schools could take before resuming," Jeff said.
"While school was closed, I personally missed a lot, right from the school routine activities to playing and interacting with teaching staff and my friends. Now being back at the school, I am so delighted to follow school routine activities, interacting with teachers and my fellow pupils. It also makes me see the future through schooling and achieving my goals."
Jeff fetching water at the well.
"My worries of the virus had reduced, unlike during its onset, but when we get to hear of the virus as it keeps on changing and being much more infectious, we then worry most. The school has been trying so much to stop the spread of the virus...The school had purchased several handwashing stations...and they have been emphasizing handwashing with soap. More so, they have been teaching on ways to deal with the virus."
"Now that I am informed, I have a duty to disseminate the same information to my siblings and the rest of the community members as I teach them how to construct a simple leaky tin for washing their hands, being one way of preventing the spread of the virus."
Field Officer Janet celebrates clean water flowing.
When an issue arises concerning the water project, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.
Thank you for making all of this possible!