"There is never enough time to concentrate on studies fully as I am forced to fetch water from the spring daily. Sometimes, the drawn water is dirty, but I am forced to drink it to quench my thirst, and the consequences are always severe. Absenteeism is on the increase as sometimes I get so tired of helping the school fetch water," said Susan, a student at Kamuchisu Primary School.
Susan is 1 of 636 students and 20 teachers and staff at this school who face an enormous water crisis every day. Established in 1995 by local community members who longed to bring education close to home for their children, the school has never had its own water source. Students are responsible for carrying enough water to meet the entire school's drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs every day. However, with such a high student population, the students' water is never enough to satisfy these needs.
Students fetch water from an unprotected spring in the community, presenting many challenges. The spring is located in a deep valley with many rocks. The spring is open to all kinds of contamination, rendering it unfit for human consumption. Runoff from the rains pours dirt, farm chemicals, and animal waste directly into the water. The spring is also seasonal, meaning it produces very little water and sometimes runs dry for part of the year each dry season.
Pupils become exhausted climbing into and out of the valley while carrying water several times a day. Due to their large numbers, the students waste a lot of class time waiting in long lines at the spring. They are often late to their classes due to fetching water and sometimes miss them entirely while they wait their turn to fetch water at the spring. Between the missed classes and low energy when students return to class, their academic performance is poor.
Because water from the unprotected spring is unsafe, students frequently report waterborne diseases, including typhoid and diarrhea. These illnesses keep students home while recovering and drain their families of money as they pay for these diseases' expensive treatment. Many students, like Susan, decided to stay home some afternoons or even whole days because they get too tired and frustrated with being sent to the spring to fetch water.
"Most times, I have lacked water to drink because the water drawn from the spring is not clean. Also, the containers used to fetch water scares me a lot as they are always dirty," added teacher Philip Shitika.
What We Can Do:
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, the school’s students and staff will use water from the well and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.
The school and we 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 unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.
The student health club will oversee the two new handwashing stations we will provide and ensure 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.
Two triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls, and three doors will serve the boys. These new latrines will have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean. And with a rain tank 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, prevention; personal and environmental hygiene; and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a special emphasis on handwashing.
Our team of facilitators will use various 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 home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and promote good hygiene practices within the school, including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up training before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.