December, 2019: Friends School Mutaho Primary Project Complete!
Friends School Mutaho Primary in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tank, which has the ability to collect 50,000 liters of water. We installed new latrines for students, handwashing stations, and we trained students and staff on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. All of these components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.
Students celebrate their new rain tank
"I thank your organization so much for the good work they have done at this school. With this new water point at school, it will now help the children to concentrate in class and avoid unnecessary movement to go to the spring and fetch water which is far away from the school compound. We know this will reflect positively on their performance and general behavior as well, and it will also minimize absenteeism because students were unable to come to school every day due to water-related sicknesses such as typhoid and diarrhea," said sanitation teacher Mrs. Nelly Andeka.
Student enjoying water from the rain tank
Construction for this 50,000-liter rain tank was successful!
Parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. All the while, the school cooks prepared meals for the artisans, and the school provided accommodations for the artisans during their work. Local women and men helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.
The process officially began with our staff and school administration looking around the school compound to try and determine the best location for a new rain tank. This needed to be the best site with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater.
Then, we cleared the site: excavating the soil within the required measurements to make level ground for the tank foundation. The foundation was cast by laying hardcore on level ground and then reinforcing it using steel, concrete and waterproof cement.
Rain tank foundation underway
Both the drawing pipe as well as the washout pipe were affixed as the foundation was laid. The wall was built with ferro-cement techniques through 6 layers. The inner wall was plastered while rough casting was done on the outer part. Finally, the catchment area was dug, plastered, and a staircase installed.
Artisans working on interior tank plaster
Dome construction could begin after the superstructure had been given enough time to settle. The manhole cover was fitted, inlet pipes were connected to the roof gutters, inlet screens, ventilation pipes (breathers) and overflow pipes were all done to standard. The only challenge of the entire construction process came at the end when we ran out of sand.
The head teacher Mr. Oliver Matete reported that he had tried all means of sourcing more from the community but he could not get it. Then, the principal of the nearby secondary section of the school donated the additional sand that was needed, demonstrating the strong sense of collaboration between the schools. We were all appreciative of the gesture and materials, and all works were able to be completed on time.
Look! Clean running water!
Once finished, the tank was given 3 to 4 weeks to undergo complete curing before it was cleaned and handed over to Friends School Mutaho Primary, though we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. The celebration happened immediately following the training, which was a great chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we’ve given, as well as remind them of our continued support as they develop.
The official handing-over ceremony
The Headmaster thanked his team who had worked tirelessly with us to ensure the success of the project, saying he did not have enough words to express his full joy but that he was very excited to see the project completed. He passed his heartfelt appreciation to our team for implementing the WaSH project at their school so that they can now access safe and clean drinking water and wash their hands after visiting the toilet. The students were very happy and they also thanked us for the good work.
Mr. Matete was very pleased in the end despite his challenges with sourcing local materials. He said he is glad that the tank is up and has started collecting water due to the current rains. Mr. Matete also expressed his faith that the school's overall performance will improve as students will now be able to concentrate on their studies, and cases of absenteeism due to water-related illnesses will reduce since pupils will now be consuming safe and clean water.
Plenty of water for everyone
"Thank you so much, The Water Project, you have really made us proud as a school. Now we will be washing our hands at all critical times and making sure the environment around us is clean. We have also learned how accessing safe and clean water can improve our lifestyle," said school administrator Mr. Dickson Chalwa.
This project funded the installation of 6 new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, half for girls and half for boys.
Girls pose with their new latrines
All of these new latrines have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and clean. And with a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.
Boys pose with their new latrines
The 2 handwashing stations were delivered to the school and handed over to the student health club. These were placed outside of the girls’ and boys’ latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use.
Health club members teach other students how to properly wash their hands at the stations, make sure the stations are filled with water, and work to ensure that there is always soap or ash available.
Girls line up to wash their hands
Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school principal and Head Teacher Mr. Oliver Matete, who together ensured that the training date would be convenient for students, staff, and parent representatives. Individual teachers helped by selecting students from each class to represent the others.
Some 29 students attended training, which was held inside a classroom due to the cold weather of the day. The trainees were very active and made the whole day a lovely time by participating, asking and answering questions, and contributing during group discussion time. All the trainees were very excited because they were learning new things about water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Group discussion during training
We covered a number of topics, including personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, and handwashing with soap as a barrier from germs; and operation and maintenance of the new facilities, with each person understanding their role for long-lasting clean water and good health. The new student health club will be greatly involved in project management and will be responsible for encouraging good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community.
Presentation from a student group representative
Handwashing was a big hit with these students and they eagerly demonstrated the 10 steps.
"If we don't wash our hands, we will be sick and our parents will spend a lot of money treating us and some may even die because of cholera, diarrhea, and typhoid," said student Caroline.
To avoid this, all of the students promised to wash their hands at all critical points of the day, such as before eating, after visiting the toilet, after playing sports, before preparing food, and after changing baby diapers.
Handwashing practice during training
Another lively topic was our discussion on water pollution since students were very surprised to hear that some water sources are not safe for drinking, especially if the fetching containers used are dirty. The pupils were also not aware that water can be polluted during storage in different ways, such as being left uncovered, sitting stagnant for too long, or simply being dipped into instead of poured out for use.
"We should not use the cup that is meant for fetching water at the storage container for drinking," said student Ian reflecting upon this lesson.
Listening attentively to the facilitator
"We have been doing things without any precautions about sanitation and hygiene - without washing hands, without treating water, and many other habits that we have learned we were not aware could cause negative consequences to our lives. Through this training we will be able to improve on healthy habits related to water, sanitation, and hygiene because now we are aware of doing the right thing," said 13-year-old student Serafine.
She thanked the organization so much for enlightening their minds and was full of joy upon completing the program.
Thank you for making all of this possible!