A day at St. Mary's involves students waking up early at 4:30am to prepare for the day. All of the girls live on school grounds so they can prepare for the day quickly and get straight to studying. At 5:30am, they're required to sit in study hall until breakfast is served at 7am.
There's more time to study and finish up assignments until normal classes at 8am. These lessons continue throughout the day until sports and games hour at 4pm. The boarders are required to get water and clean up for dinner at 5:30pm, after which they go for evening prayers and then study until bed.
With this heavy academic schedule, it should be no surprise that St. Mary's Girl's High is rated one of the top boarding schools in the region. This notoriety has in turn attracted more girls, which is straining the school's facilities. They used to have a dining hall and sick room, but now they're both dormitories.
There are currently 1,035 girls attending classes here. They are taught by 41 teachers and helped by 26 supplementary staff. (Since a typical water source can only support a generous number of 500 people, we cap our "number served" there.)
The school catches rainwater, has a well, and paid a fee to be connected to piped water in order to do their best to meet the drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs of these girls.
Unfortunately, the pipeline is only on a couple of days a week and that water is metered. Therefore, the school pursued the installation of other clean water sources. Since they've been able to get a well and rainwater tanks, the school has already grown by over 200 students.
You'll see girls at one of these sources at the strangest times of the day, for they'd like to avoid the extraordinarily long lines that form during the morning and evening. This forced administration to figure out how to upgrade facilities or add more capacity.
They tried to upgrade their well to a submersible system, but they were told the yield is too low for any pump other than the manual pump they have. Nonetheless, this well and the concrete rainwater tank are the school's most reliable clean water sources - they just need more.
Some of the pit latrines are in good working condition while others are not. Most of the unused latrines are missing their doors, so girls won't dare to use them. There is just one handwashing station, mostly for the staff to use. Girls are expected to use the water they fetched in their own containers.
Counting the usable pit latrines here, there are 51 girls per latrine. They're doing their best at keeping their campus and its facilities clean, but it's difficult when there's such overuse.
"The school has enjoyed proper sanitation and health standards over the years, for close to the ten years that I have been working here. With this kind of environment, we have had the opportunity to produce some of the best performing students in the region and the whole country," Principal Rosemary Kwendo said.
"With that kind of performance, there has been goodwill between us and the surrounding school communities and also the government, thus the continuous increase in population. This increase has therefore led to a strain on all the social amenities we have, and now we face the challenge of standard health."
In fact, while St. Mary's Girl's High has been praised by many, the water shortage problem and poor sanitation conditions have recently been the subject of negative news stories about the school.
Here’s what we plan 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 these girls to lead their peers into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school. This CTC club will oversee the new facilities, such as hand-washing stations, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition.
The two handwashing stations will be delivered to the school, and the CTC club will fill them with water on a daily basis and make sure there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
Six doors of new pit latrines will be installed for the girls, complete with good ventilation. 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
This rainwater catchment tank will add an additional 50,000 liters of clean water on school grounds to help support the growing student population. All of these new facilities are helping the school avoid an impending closure notice, ensuring that hundreds of girls still have the opportunity to pursue a bright future.
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 readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.