Madam Pamela Luhyakha, the new principal of Essaba Secondary School, narrates that each day comes with the burden to alleviate the water shortage for her students. She admits that she greatly regrets having to send her learners to go find water from the surrounding communities. Once the students have finally returned with water, they must continue with their morning routine, when some pick up outside while others clean the classrooms. By the time they settle down for class, they can't help but feel they've missed out on perhaps an entire lesson's worth of learning.
The people living in the school neighborhood rely on farming to meet their daily needs. A few of them are traders, selling items at nearby Luanda Market. History has it that the first regional leaders after post-colonial Kenya came from this area. Essaba Village, therefore, is known for prominent personalities who greatly contributed to the commencement of both the Essaba Primary and Secondary schools back in the 1970s.
We visited the Essaba Secondary School, which currently has a student enrollment of 229 and employs 16 teaching staff.
The school has a 10,000-liter plastic water tank that is set aside for academic purposes, meaning that the water is clean enough to be used in the science lab. Thus, students have to find extra water for drinking and cleaning.
Students report that when they're sent out to find water, they often walk to nearby Mulwanda Spring and wait their turn in line behind community members. There's no storage for drinking water, so it's kept in the same 20-liter containers brought to and from the spring.
Parents have recently been pulling their students from Essaba Secondary, noting the fact that valuable class time is spent searching for drinking water.
The school doesn't have many other facilities, either. There are just four usable pit latrines made of brick, but the floor above the pit is starting to fall apart at the edges. The floor of a nearby latrine facility has already caved in - thankfully with no students inside at the time. There are cracks in the walls and holes in the doors, while some of those doors are even hanging off their hinges.
There's one handwashing station, but students would have to carry extra water to keep it full throughout the day.
"Our school portrays a poor health situation due to water shortages coupled with inadequate sanitation facilities that are also unsafe for our learners," Deputy Principal Zechariah Ominde said.
"It has been so hard for the school because no one would want to survive in a place where cleaning of latrines and classrooms is rationed, and the availability of water for food preparation or drinking is rare. Our suggestion box is full of complaints from students who feel neglected."
Here's what we're going to do about it:
Training will be held for two days. The facilitator will use PHAST (participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation), ABCD (asset-based community development), CTC (child to child), lectures, group discussions, and handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good practices within the school. The CTC method will prepare students to lead other students into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school.
This CTC club will oversee the new facilities, such as handwashing stations, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The two handwashing stations will be delivered to the school, and the club will fill them with water on a daily basis and make sure there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
Two triple-door latrines will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. And with a new source of water on school grounds, students and staff should have enough to keep these new latrines clean.
Rainwater Catchment Tank
A 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will also help gather the needed materials such as sand, rocks, and water from the spring for mixing cement. Once finished, this tank can begin catching rainfall that will be used by the school’s students and staff.
We and the school strongly believe that with this assistance, standards will significantly improve. These higher standards will translate to better academic performance!
This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (edited for clarity) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.