January, 2021: ACK St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary School Project Complete!
We have exciting news!
Students and teachers finally arrived back in class at ACK St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary School following the Kenyan government's order to fully reopen all schools for in-person learning in January. As soon as students returned, their teachers invited our team to conduct our COVID-19 prevention, hygiene, and sanitation training.
While there, we also officially handed over the rain tank and latrines to the school. It was a joyous occasion, even with most smiles hidden behind masks. Students celebrated by drinking and splashing water and washing their hands.
Students celebrate the rain tank
"In the past, we have been taking water that we didn't know where it came from, and because of that, we had stomach diseases. Now that we have clean and safe water for drinking, we shall live a healthy life with no sickness. I will have more time to concentrate on my studies since there is no more wasting of time looking for water," said pupil Brian.
Enjoying a drink from the rain tank
Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new rain tank on campus.
"We will be able to access clean and safe water for drinking. Having the water in the school compound caters to the well-being of teachers and students. Having clean and safe drinking water in the school compound will save a lot of time for the students and teachers to cover the syllabus on time," said teacher Mr. Kenneth Mulongo.
Team Leader Emmah hands over the tank to the school's Deputy Principal.
The school and our team agreed that adherence to physical distancing and mask-wearing whenever possible would be necessary to train the students safely. With a strict timetable to minimize exposure and an eager student body ready to learn, we sent facilitators Adelaide Nasimiyu, Elvine Atieno, and Jacky Kangu to lead the training.
14 students and teachers attended training, which we held outside in the shade near the rain tank. We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics.
Students participate in training.
Other topics the facilitators covered included personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights; operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations; and leadership and governance.
During the governance session, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club. The club will be greatly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at their school. They will also be responsible for encouraging good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community.
Boys pose outside their new VIP latrines.
We involved stretches, dances, and physical activities between each topic to keep the pupils’ energy up and their minds active. By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.
Girls celebrate their new VIP latrines.
"The training has been so valuable to me because it has come on time - the exact time when we need to be taught how to take care of ourselves during this pandemic of COVID-19. I have learned how to wash my hands and put on the mask correctly, and because of this, I am going to live a healthy life," said student Martin, whose peers were elected as Chair of the new student health club.
Boys give thumbs up for clean water.
The elected student treasurer of the club, Irine, also found value in training.
"The training was precious to me because today I have known the importance of observing cleanliness, and with the pandemic at hand, I have learned that I can make my own mask. With this knowledge received today, I am going to share with my friends and also my family so that we can make our own masks and save that money that was used to buy masks," she said.
Irine also shared what it has been like as a student home from school since last March.
"At first, it was exciting because we got to rest from school work. But after ten months of staying at home, I missed school so much and wished to go back. I lost a lot of time, and now I have to repeat the same class I was in last year."
Irine poses in front of the rain tank.
Irine said she missed her teachers and classmates the most while at home and that she is now "excited and ready to learn." Coming back to school now does look different from when she left, but she knows the changes are in their best interest to maintain their health and safety.
"My school had already set up several handwashing stations at different places in the school compound. It had already ensured that every student wore a face mask in the school compound, and our temperatures are taken before entering the school compound. I will follow the guidelines by ensuring that I wash my hands regularly, put on a face mask, and avoid the handshake to keep myself safe from COVID-19."
Girls celebrate the rain tank.
Between the time we last visited ACK St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary School and student's return, the school even erected several new handwashing sinks to boost students' hand hygiene further. We were impressed with the addition and happy to see so many places where students can now choose to wash their hands with soap and water from their new rain tank.
Team Leader Emmah tries out one of the new handwashing sinks the school built for students' return this month.
When an issue arises concerning the water project, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify most problems and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers' team to assist them.
Clean water flows from the rain tank.
We will also continue to offer the school unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program. When schools fully reopen, we will continue to engage them in coronavirus prevention training and reminders.
Thank you for making all of this possible!
November, 2020: Construction Complete at ACK St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary School
Construction of the rain tank and VIP latrines at ACK St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary School is now complete!
The completed rain tank wet from the curing process
When Kenya closed schools nationwide in March 2020 to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, we worked carefully to ensure already-planned projects like the one at ACK St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary School reached completion despite the closure. To achieve this, we relied on a combination of mutual trust and communication with the school and students' families to finish construction while keeping our team and the community safe.
Kenyan schools were initially scheduled to reopen in January 2021, when we planned to train students and teachers on COVID-19 prevention, handwashing, and how to take care of their new rain tank and latrines.
However, recently, the Kenyan government allowed certain grades of students to resume their classes for the remainder of 2020. Upon hearing this news, we treated the water in every school rain tank to ensure a fresh supply of drinking water for the returning pupils.
An Operation and Maintenance team stands on top of a school rain tank to measure the water levels through the removable cover to calculate the amount of treatment required.
With some students now back at ACK St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary School, we acted quickly to offer our health, hygiene, and COVID-19 training to help them better use the clean water from their rain tank to keep students and teachers safe and healthy. We are currently working with the school's administration to determine the best time for their training, as it depends on their students' immediate academic needs and their communities' risk level.
Until we can formally hand over the rain tank and VIP latrines to the school and conduct health and hygiene training, we consider this project “incomplete.” That is why we extended the expected completion date to the end of the year, though the final decision of when to host training rests with the school.
Completed 4-door latrine block for the girls.
The training will ideally include students, teachers, and parents. This one-day intensive will focus on COVID-19 prevention and handwashing. The trainers will also cover a wide range of topics, including personal and environmental hygiene and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations.
Once we complete the health and hygiene training and safely celebrate the school's ownership of the project, we will be sure to send you an update.
Completed 2-door latrine block with a urinal in back for the boys.
Luckily, most students in this school live in communities where we have already completed several rounds of COVID-19 sensitization training. We are continuing to work with all of the communities we serve throughout the pandemic to keep their water running and help them stay informed of the latest COVID-19 guidance.
A New Page for Water & Sanitation at ACK St. Peter's Khabakaya Secondary School
The rain tank has the ability to collect 75,000 liters of water, providing a new source of safe, clean water on campus. Combined with the six new VIP latrines we built and the installation of two new handwashing facilities, we look forward to seeing all of these components work together to unlock these students' opportunities to live better, healthier lives.
The latrines will be divided by gender. This school chose to allocate four doors of latrines to the girls who had a higher need for more toilets than the boys. We built two doors of latrines, including a urinal for the boys, for a total of six new latrines. All of these new latrines have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean, locking doors for safety and privacy, and vents designed to keep air flowing up and out through the roof. With a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.
How We Go From Ground to Rain Tank
Before schools closed, parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. Even after the children went home, the school team of kitchen staff and a few parents helped provide meals for the artisans while the school provided accommodations. Local women and men helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.
Groundbreaking at the rain tank excavation site
The process officially began with our staff and school administration looking around the school compound to determine the best location for a new rain tank. This needed to be the best site with enough land and a nearby building with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater.
Pouring concrete over the tank's rock foundation
Then, we cleared the site by excavating the soil to make level ground for the tank foundation. We cast the foundation by laying big stones on the level ground and reinforcing them using steel wire, concrete, and waterproof cement. We affixed both the drawing pipe and the drainage pipe as we laid the foundation.
Attaching sugar sacks to the wire mesh to form the tank wall skeleton
Next, we formed the walls using a skeleton of rebar and wire mesh with sugar sacks temporarily tied to the outside as backing. We attached this to the foundation’s edges so that the work team could start the Ferro-cementing process. They began layering the walls with cement, alternating with the inner and outer side, until six cement layers were in place. (The sugar sacks are removed once the interior receives its first two layers of cement.)
Interior cement work begins
Inside the tank, we cast one central and four support pillars to ensure the dome does not cave in once cemented. Meanwhile, we plastered the inner wall while roughcasting the outer walls. We dug and plastered the access area to the tap outside of the tank, where we also installed a short staircase. In front of the access area, we constructed a soak pit where spilled water can drain from the access area through the ground. The pit helps to keep the tap area dry and tidy.
Plastering the 5 support pillars
Dome construction could begin after the tank walls settled. We attached a dome skeleton of rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks to the tank walls before cementing and plastering it using similar techniques as the wall construction. We included a small manhole cover into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.
Working on the dome
We propper long wooden poles (about 75 of them!) inside the tank to support the dome while it cured. Then it was down to the finishing touches: fitting a lockable manhole cover over the tap area, affixing the gutters to the roof and tank, and setting an overflow pipe in place at the edge of the dome for when the tank reaches capacity.
Wooden poles piled and ready for use inside the tank
Once finished, we gave the rain tank three to four weeks to undergo complete curing. Finally, we removed the interior support poles and dome sugar sacks and cleaned the tank.
Thank you for helping to make this work possible - stay tuned for an update on training and the handing-over celebration!