Sawawa Secondary School was opened in 2014 by the Salvation Army Church. Today, it hosts 200 students and 15 teachers and staff, yet they still face a severe clean water shortage every day.
The main water source for this school is a hand-dug well without a handpump on campus. To fetch water, students lower a bucket on a rope down into the well, submerge it, then pull it back up and pour the water into their personal containers. In addition to this process being time-consuming and tiresome, there are several problems with this well water, not least of which is its seasonality. During the dry season, the water dries up and students are forced to look for water elsewhere in the community, leaving school grounds and wasting precious school time in their search.
"Due to the seasonality of the partially protected well, I am forced to skip some lessons in search of water. The water is also not conducive for consumption as it is not clean," said student Simon.
Teachers reported that most students have complained of ailments brought about by drinking the dirty well water. Typhoid, diarrhea, and stomachaches are the key water-related diseases in the school. These cause students to miss class, and it costs the school and their families greatly in paying for their medication and doctor visits.
"As the head of the school, since the well water is not safe for consumption I am forced to always buy drinking water for myself. Sometimes I am forced to drink the water just like my students and this always ends with stomachache and diarrhea," said Head Teacher Mr. Clarance Elijah.
Unfortunately for the students, buying water is not an option because it is too costly.
The only other source of water the school relies on - even during the rainy season when the well has water - is students bringing water from home. Some students are lucky enough to collect water from home, though this depletes their families' water for the day. Other students must go out and fetch water while it is still dark if they are to make it to their first class at 6:40 am.
In either case, the long walk to school hauling their water saps their energy. Many pupils arrive at school already too tired to focus, negatively affecting their academic performance which is made worse by their absenteeism when they get sick from the water.
Though some of the water sources students use from home may produce clean and safe water, their containers are not always clean. Because the water is combined for use, including the well water, even 1 contaminated source means everyone suffers.
This school has already identified all of the locally available materials needed to construct the proposed rain tank and latrines, and the students and teachers said they are "committed to fully support the project 100%."
What we can do:
A 75,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will help collect the needed construction materials such as sand, bricks, rocks, and water for mixing cement. We will complement their materials by providing an expert team of artisans, tools, hardware, and the guttering system. Once finished, this tank will begin catching rainfall that will be used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.
We and the school strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve standards at this school, which will help lead to better student academic performance and will help unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.
There is currently nowhere for students to wash their hands after using the latrines or before eating lunch, let alone the water to do so.
The student health club will oversee the 2 new handwashing stations we will provide, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The club leaders will fill the handwashing stations with water daily and make sure they are always supplied with a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
The latrines currently in use at this school are overcrowded, dirty, and not up to standard.
2 triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. 3 doors will serve the girls while the other 3 will serve the boys. All of these new latrines will have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and to clean. And with a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.
We will hold a 1-day intensive training on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits at this school. Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train students and staff, including participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation (PHAST) and asset-based community development (ABCD). We will initiate a child-to-child (CTC) student health club, which will prepare students to lead other pupils into healthy habits at school and at home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions, and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good hygiene practices within the school. We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.