December, 2020: Friends School Shivanga Secondary Project Complete!
We have exciting news!
When Kenya closed schools nationwide in March 2020 to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, we worked carefully to ensure Friends School Shivanga Secondary's rain tank and latrines 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 tanks 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.
A student enjoying water from the rain tank
Once students returned to school, we acted quickly to offer our health, hygiene, and COVID-19 training to schools to use clean water from their rain tanks to keep students and teachers safe and healthy. Our good relationship and open communication with Friends School Shivanga Secondary led our principal to invite our team to conduct the training immediately.
We also officially handed over the rain tank and latrines to the school directly following training. Though limited in scope, this was a particularly joyous celebration as we had not expected this would be possible until some time next year. Field Officers Ian Nakitare and Jonathan Mutai handed over the new project to the student health club. Their faculty advisor, Mr. Andrew Mulonza, followed a short prayer to mark the event.
"I think now I do not have to worry about illnesses arising from drinking dirty water. I can use my cup to get clean drinking water straight from the tap without worrying that someone may have dipped their dirty cup in it. It will save on time so much; I will be able to spend less time trying to clean my cup and more time catching up on my studies," said student Leo.
Mr. Mulonza was just as excited as the students about the new rain tank on campus.
"The convenience of having water, and clean water for that matter, within the school compound will definitely change a lot of things around here. For one, I know that there will be shorter breaks between periods, and our students will have to come up with a different excuse to be away from school. Things are definitely going to change," he said with a smile.
Mr. Andrew Mulonza poses with the rain tank
With the new rain tank on campus, Mr. Mulonza said he expects they will finally be able to achieve the "completion of the syllabus in good time for the exams."
"We have been having challenges in the past because, at times, you would want to teach, only for you to find 10 students in class in a class of 40 students. The others are out trying to get water from the well, to clean their plates, or are waiting for warm water from the kitchen for drinking."
"That will change."
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 Jonathan Mutai and Ian Nakitare
to lead the training.
14 students and 1 teacher attended training, which we held inside a classroom. We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics.
Handwashing session with Trainer Jonathan Mutai
"The training, especially on COVID-19, has boosted some of the things we had learned before the resumption of classes. The other topics have been about the things we usually do but not so well, so they have really improved our knowledge. It has been an eye-opener," said teacher and faculty advisor to the student health club, Mr. Andrew Mulonza.
"As a school, we have put in place quite a number of measures. We have placed a number of handwashing stations all over the school, from the gate to the latrines. We have also ensured that anyone walking into the school has to have a mask on and maintain a distance of at least a meter from their neighbor. We will have to enforce the use of soap and cleaning of surfaces that are touched by more than one person, like the faucets on the taps," Mr. Mulonza added.
Students Sarah demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing
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.
Boys pose next to their new latrines and handwashing station
Personal hygiene was the most memorable session, facilitators said. Under this topic, many other sub-topics came up, including menstrual hygiene management. It was encouraging to see the few boys present to participate in the session, some even more actively than the girls at times. Upon inquiry, we found out that one of the boys was the only son in five siblings and the eldest. The rest of the boys had also had at least one conversation come up about menstrual hygiene and had not known how to react, thus their interest in learning more. The entire group agreed that since everyone either deals with menstruation or knows someone who does, it was a worthy topic for all to learn about.
Girls wash their hands in front of their new latrines.
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 with the rain tank
When more students return to school next year, the students we trained will be instrumental in sharing what they learned with the rest of the student body to help keep everyone safe and healthy.
Teachers give thanks for the rain tank
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.
"The training was indeed, helpful. We learned many things that were an improvement on what we have in the syllabus and others that are not taught in class. Personally, the COVID-19 training and the one for mental health were new to me, and I think they have opened up a lot," said student Sarah.
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.
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!
August, 2020: Friends School Shivanga Secondary Project Construction Complete; Hygiene Training Postponed to 2021
Construction of the rain tank and VIP latrines at Friends School Shivanga Secondary is now complete!
Completed rain tank at Friends School Shivanga Secondary
Kenya’s president recently announced that due to the progression of COVID-19 in Kenya, all primary and secondary schools will remain closed until at least January 2021.
What does this mean for the project?
It’s simple: we will continue to maintain our water promise, monitoring the project’s integrity, and working with school officials to determine the best practices for the safety and maintenance of the rain tank and latrines. This will ensure that these new water and sanitation facilities stay in tip-top shape while awaiting the students' return.
We will not be able to formally hand over the rain tank and VIP latrines to the school or conduct health and hygiene training until students return. Because of that, we consider this project “incomplete.” That is why we extended the expected completion date to 2021 - after we expect schools to reopen.
The 2 blocks of VIP latrines with 3 doors each for girls and boys
Once schools reopen, we will schedule a training session with students, teachers, and parents. This 1-day intensive will cover a wide range of topics including personal and environmental hygiene and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a special emphasis on handwashing.
Water flows from the rain tank's tap
We are counting down the months and days until we can greet these students back at school with their new rain tank and latrines! Once we complete the health and hygiene training and we can safely celebrate the students' first use of the new project, we will be sure to send you an update.
Luckily, most students in this school live in communities where we have 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.
Curious about what life is like dealing with COVID-19 in a different country?
Check out our new series, “Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles,” on our blog. Every week we invite a new person from a community we serve to share their perspective and experience since the pandemic came to their doorstep.
A New Page for Water & Sanitation at Friends School Shivanga Secondary
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 6 new VIP latrines we built and the future installation of 2 new handwashing facilities once classes resume, we look forward to seeing all of these components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.
The latrines will be divided evenly among the students by gender, 3 for girls and 3 for boys. All of these new latrines have cement floors that are 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, who were given accommodations by the school. Local women and men helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.
Rain tank site excavation
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 enough land and a nearby building with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater.
The artisan begins to pour the concrete mixture over rocks and wire to form the rain tank's foundation
Then, we cleared the site by excavating the soil to make level ground for the tank foundation. The foundation was cast by laying big stones on the level ground and reinforcing them using steel wire, concrete, and waterproof cement. Both the drawing pipe as well as the drainage pipe were affixed as the foundation was laid.
Community members help secure the sugar sacks to the tank's wire skeleton
Next, the walls were formed using a skeleton of rebar and wire mesh with sugar sacks temporarily tied to the outside as backing. This was attached to the foundation’s edges so that the work team could start the Ferro-cementing process, in which the walls are layered with cement alternating with the inner and outer side until 6 layers of cement are in place. (The sugar sacks are removed once the interior receives its first 2 layers of cement.)
Inside the tank, 1 central and 4 support pillars were cast to ensure the dome does not cave in once cemented. Meanwhile, the inner wall was plastered while the outer walls received their roughcasting. Outside of the tank, the access area to the tap was dug, plastered, and a short staircase installed, along with a soak pit where spilled water can drain from the access area through the ground. This helps to keep the tap area dry and tidy.
Tank ready for exterior plaster after sacks are removed
Dome construction could begin after the tank walls had been given enough time to settle. Using similar techniques as used on the walls, the dome started as rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks and was attached to the tank walls before receiving cement and plaster. A small manhole cover was built into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.
Pillar work inside the tank
Long wooden poles (about 75 of them!) were placed inside the tank to support the dome while it cured. A lockable manhole cover was fitted over the tap area, the gutters were affixed to the roof and the tank, and an overflow pipe was set in place at the edge of the dome for when the tank reaches capacity.
Dome work is a full team effort
Once finished, the rain tank was given 3-4 weeks to undergo complete curing. Finally, the interior support poles and dome sugar sacks were removed and the tank was cleaned.
Artisan Evans at work on the dome's cement
Since completion, there have been very heavy and frequent rains in this region of Western Kenya. We are monitoring the water levels in the tank thanks to the help of school staff, who continue to monitor campus during the break.
Attaching the guttering to the school building's roof.
When schools are ready to reopen, we will treat the tank full of fresh water just before students arrive to be sure it is ready for their use.
Thank you for helping to make this work possible!