Kithumba Primary School is nestled in a hilly area with steep slopes and a rough terrain. The climbing road meanders back and forth to enable smooth driving, a trip that took us about two and a half hours each way.
The school was started in 1958 by local parents who didn't want to see their children travel so far to get an education. The facilities at the more than half-century-old school certainly look their age.
Students arrive by 7:30am to clean their classrooms and latrines before normal lessons at 8:20am. As with most Kenyan primary schools, they end the day with games, a study hall, and dismissal at 5pm.
The community living here has invested in farming fruit, the majority specializing in mangos.
A large cement tank was constructed during the school's first days back in the 60s, but it has since crumbled and become unusable.
Since the school lacks a reliable source of water, students are required to bring water in five to 10-liter containers each day. Water carried by the students is from various unknown sources, but is pooled together and used by the entire school. Balancing this burden with the schoolbooks they already carry is difficult, and students arrive tired before the day even begins. The water stored in a large plastic storage tank and accessed throughout the day for drinking and other needs.
This water must be rationed because it is not enough to clean the school compound and meet everyone's drinking needs. Cases of amoeba and typhoid are on the rise as a result of students and teachers using this water.
"We lack a clean water supply in school. Tasking pupils to carry water on a daily basis is burdening and has never been our wish, it is the only way out. Many of our pupils and staff have been diagnosed with amoeba and typhoid because of drinking the available water," Headteacher Mutinda said.
There isn't enough water to spare for good hygiene and sanitation at the school.
There's none for cleaning latrines, so ash is kept at the latrines to sprinkle around and keep the smell down. There's no water for washing hands after using the latrine, either.
"Our levels of hygiene and sanitation in school are below average. This school is found on a very poor background with no distinct water sources and lack of financial ability to afford clean water. Dirty water has exposed us to poor health conditions found on many cases of waterborne diseases," Headteacher Mutinda added.
Here's what we're going to do about it:
Students and staff will be trained for one day. Those in attendance will form a school health club that will promote good hygiene and sanitation practices both at school and home. They will learn all of the steps to proper hand-washing, how to treat water, and how to keep their environment clean. The school will also be taught how to best oversee and maintain their new rainwater catchment tank and hand-washing stations.
Three hand-washing stations will be delivered at the project’s completion. These are 1,000-liter plastic tanks fitted with four taps. The health club and school management will be responsible for making sure tanks are filled with water and that a cleaning agent such as soap or ash is available.
Rainwater Catchment Tank
We will build a 104,000-liter rainwater catchment tank for this school. This water will benefit the students, teachers, and supplementary staff. Parents will mobilize the materials needed for construction, such as sand and stone. They will also lend some strong arms to help with the actual construction.
The huge capacity of this tank makes the others look tiny in comparison; 104,000 liters should be enough water to carry students and staff through the entire dry season. As soon as the tank has time to cure, it can begin to collect rainwater for drinking, cooking and cleaning!
This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (formatted and edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.