November, 2023: Ebulechia Primary School Well Complete!
We are excited to share that Ebulechia Primary School in Kenya now has access to a new safe water source thanks to the completion of their borehole well! Students and staff are already using the well's flowing water, which will provide them with a reliable water source for their daily needs.
We also installed new latrines and handwashing stations and trained students and staff on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. Together, these components will unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.
"Accessing safe water will help me live a healthy life. Before this water was brought to school, we used to drink water. We didn't know where it came from. This made us to become sick. We could miss school because of sickness. Now that we are assured of safe water at school, we will be [able] to stay at school throughout the year. This will [help] me concentrate on my studies and pass my exams," said 13-year-old Lorraine S.
Lorraine, by the new well.
"This water will be of great help to me and other students. Before this water was brought to school, we used to carry water from home. This was a tedious exercise. Sometimes, the water carried from home wasn't enough. During break time, instead of playing, we were sent to a nearby spring to bring water. This made us not play because this exercise took all the time allocated for [our] break," Lorraine said.
"Now that we have water in school, I will be able to concentrate on my studies. Now that I am [a] candidate, I will use the extra time to study so that I can pass my exams, which will come at the end of this year. I want to join my dream school, which is Butere Girls. In Butere Girls, I will work hard to become a nurse in [the] future," concluded Lorraine.
Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new well on campus.
"Sometimes, we have been sick from drinking water that we didn't know its source. This made the school have a high number of absenteeism both for teachers and students. With safe water in school, this absenteeism will greatly reduce," said 48-year-old teacher Michael Otinga Mwimali.
Teacher Michael Otinga Mwimali at the new well.
"This water will enable me to concentrate better [on] the results of the school. I will ensure that the school timetable is rescheduled to enable learners [to] have enough time to study and play. I want, by the end of the year, [that] the minimum score of the school should have improved to above 300 marks. Teachers are going to be motivated to concentrate on the remedial lessons. When the school minimum score improves, it will be able to attract more students to the school," concluded Mr. Mwimali.
How We Got the Water Flowing
Parents, staff, and students all contributed to this well's success. After determining the best site for the well through a hydrogeological survey, we obtained approval and a license from the government to begin drilling.
To prepare, the school collected fine sand and water for cement-making. When everything was ready, our drill team and staff arrived at the school to begin work.
Drilling commenced with excitement in the air. The team drove down a temporary casing to keep the walls from collapsing as the rig progressed. We continued drilling to reach a final depth of 80 meters with a final static water level of 2 meters.
The drilling process can take up to three consecutive days to complete due to this region's hard bedrock, so the drill team set up a camp where they could rest and refuel. The school's kitchen staff and parents helped provide meals for the team, while the school provided a safe place for the artisans' accommodations and materials.
Once we reached the required depth, the team replaced the temporary casing with a permanent version and bailed out the dirty water at the bottom of the well. The workers installed pipes, flushed them, tested the well's yield, and chlorinated the water.
After water treatment, we constructed a cement well pad to seal off the well from any ground-level contaminants. Tiles are installed beneath the spout to protect the cement from the erosive force of the water.
Building the well pad.
We also included a short drainage channel to carry spilled water away from the pump and prevent standing water. A soak pit absorbs runoff at the end of the drainage channel, further eliminating any stagnant water.
When the well pad was dry, we installed a new stainless steel AfriDev handpump and sampled the water for a quality test. The results showed this water was safe for drinking!
We officially handed over the new borehole to the school's students and teachers.
Students and staff celebrated the presence of clean water on campus. The event was an excellent chance 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. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.
"The ceremony started with celebratory songs from the boys and girls from the school; dances and poems were also part of the entertainment package. In attendance were County Government Representative Mr. Peter Washika; Kenya Primary Schools Head Association Chairperson Mr. Peter Busolo; the Public Health Officer; the BOM Chairperson; the Provincial Administrator; the area member of Parliament Mr. Titus Khamala; the Ward Administrator; and parents among many others. The function was full of praises from the guests and parents at large for the tremendous achievement of bringing water to the school, a thing [that] most people thought to be impossible for some time now. Finally, the meeting was finished [with] kind regards from Assistant Chief Truphena Makale, who was full of praises and well wishes for our organization," said field officer Adelaide Nasimiyu.
The boy's latrine.
This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines. These new latrines have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean, locking doors for safety and privacy, and vents to keep air flowing up and out through the roof. With a well right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.
We set up two handwashing stations outside the latrines and handed them over to the newly formed student health club. Health club members will teach other students how to wash their hands at the stations properly, fill the stations with water, and ensure that there is always a cleaning agent available.
We scheduled hygiene and sanitation training with the school's staff, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for pupils and teachers. When the training day arrived, facilitators Adelaide, Mercy, Joy, Elvine, and Faith deployed to the site to lead the event. 32 students and teachers attended the training, which we held in one of the classrooms.
Training in proper hand washing.
We focused on personal, menstrual, oral, and environmental hygiene; proper water handling; soap-making and the ten steps of handwashing; the importance of primary health care, the prevention of teen pregnancy and COVID-19; child rights; the operation and maintenance of the pump, well, latrines, and handwashing stations; and leadership and governance. During the latter, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club.
The student health club members will encourage good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community. By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.
"The facilitator explained ways of water treatment. She gave examples of each method that was mentioned. [A] trainee asked his concern as he couldn't understand how the water can be made pure through the process of Sodis. The facilitator explained to him that the sun's rays have the energy that can purify the water if it is left in the sun for 5 to 7 hours. She also added that the water must be in [a] clear container with a lid," shared field officer Adelaide.
"The training was very valuable because I learned a lot of important things. The most important information I got is to keep myself clean. Keeping myself clean will save me from diseases. I will be able to lead a healthy life. Another thing I learned is to abstain from sex until I finish school. If I indulge myself in unprotected sex, I will be pregnant or get infected with sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and AIDS, syphilis, and gonorrhea. I want to help my parents lead a better life in [the] future. So if I work hard and keep myself from sex, I will be able to achieve my dreams," said 13-year-old Doreen L.
This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. When an issue arises concerning the well, 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 their local field officers to assist them.
Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.
With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone, we're working toward complete coverage. That means reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!
Thank you for making all of this possible!