The 543 students and staff at Shisango Primary School have no reliable water source on their school campus.
There is a small 5000-liter rainwater tank, but it is too small to offer any real relief. With the high population at the school, it empties quickly, and during the dry season, it often sits completely empty.
Because the rain tank offers insufficient water, students must collect from a community spring. But it is far from the school, so they must miss class time when they should be learning and break time when they should be playing. Pupils spend a lot of energy acquiring water, making them tired and less able to concentrate when they are in class.
"Time management is a problem because students have to go to collect water, thus consuming a lot of time, time that could have been used performing other duties or studying," said 53-year-old headteacher Peter Wafunafu (shown below).
The spring is also not in great condition. To collect water, students either have to lean over while balancing on the bottom step, stand on stones in the water, or step into ankle-deep, muddy water.
"Sometimes it is hard to fetch water because it stagnates at the drawing point, forcing us to put [in] stones so that we have a place to step on so as to get the water," said 11-year-old Mitchelle A., seen below fetching water.
The spring is also overcrowded, as it is the primary water source for community members as well, causing long lines and wait times for everyone to collect minimal amounts of water.
"Also, we fetch water in small quantity because the water users are so many [and we have] wastage of time because we share water with community members, so we are forced to line up for a very long time," said Mitchelle.
With a borehole on their school campus, students should be able to get back to learning, and everyone can be assured that the water they consume is safe.
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, water from the well will then be used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.
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.
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.