December, 2020: Celebrating Clean Water at Mukoko Baptist Primary School
We are happy to share that we recently returned to Mukoko Baptist Primary School to officially celebrate the milestone completion of their 75,000-liter rain tank, six doors of VIP latrines, and two new handwashing stations!
The event was an excellent chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we have given and remind them of our continued support as they develop. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.
"I shall no longer be carrying water in containers from home, and I am now sure of clean water. I believe our classroom will always be clean, and my performance will definitely improve," said pupil Metrine.
Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new rain tank on campus.
"75,000 liters is a lot of water, and it will greatly affect our life as a school positively. It has saved us time, energy, and the risks involved in the process of sourcing water outside the school compound. We shall definitely better our academic performance," reported Madam Eunice Khatitit Shango, a school teacher.
Students fetch water from the rain tank
We celebrated the rain tank and the latrines and handwashing stations for helping the school end the cycle of fecal-oral diseases. Combined with the knowledge gained at training on improving health, hygiene, and sanitation with these new facilities, students and teachers will have a headstart at keeping many diseases - and COVID-19 - at bay.
Sanitation superhero, ready for duty
The limited student body currently in school completes their term in December, and we look forward to welcoming back the rest of their classmates in January.
Students celebrate clean hands and safe latrines.
With the students' return, we will continue to engage every school we serve to help keep students and teachers up-to-date on the latest guidelines for how best to stay safe from COVID-19 while at school.
Girls wash their hands after using the new latrines
Of course, we will also continue our routine monitoring and maintenance program to ensure Mukoko Baptist Primary School can continue to celebrate clean water today and every day.
Thank you for making all of this possible!
November, 2020: Mukoko Baptist Primary School Training Complete, Celebration Coming Soon!
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 Mukoko Baptist Primary School'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 originally 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.
Recently, however, 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.
Once students returned to school, we acted quickly to offer our health, hygiene, and COVID-19 training to schools to help them better use the clean water from their rain tanks to keep students and teachers safe and healthy. Our good relationship and open communication with Mukoko Baptist Primary School led to their principal inviting our team to conduct the training immediately.
Physical distancing check!
While there, we also officially handed over the rain tank and latrines to the school, though we did not have time for a celebration due to the time limits currently in place for school visitors. We opted for a simple handing-over ceremony attended by representatives from the school administration, the school board of management, the local community, and facilitator Jacklyne Chelagat who was there to lead the training.
Senior Teacher Madam Eunice Katiti thanking our team for the rain tank
Jacklyne briefed the representatives on some maintenance practices and their roles as the senior management team of the school's WASH projects. Senior Teacher Madam Eunice Katiti thanked our team for considering them for the project, and the quick ceremony ended in a general prayer of thanks.
At their invitation, we are working with the school administration to plan a more dedicated time for a small and safe celebration soon. We look forward to reaching back out to you with photos and videos from the event!
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 facilitator Jacklyne Chelagat to lead the training.
Students read handouts at training
13 students and 1 teacher, Madam Katiti, attended training, which we held inside a classroom. We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering a number of other topics. The prevention session was particularly memorable as students came up with different ways of greeting each other safely, and each student wanted to demonstrate.
Students practiced several contactless greetings instead of the usual hug or handshake.
Pupil Lavendar, whose peers elected her as Secretary of the new health club, described the training as "very informative. I have learned a lot. I now know the difference between the coronavirus and COVID-19. I am so grateful."
Lavendar in front of the rain tank with Trainer Jacklyne
Emmanuel, the newly elected student Chair of the health club, found value in the training as well.
"We were taught a lot of things. I have been taught how to wash hands, new ways of greeting other people, and how to prevent myself from contracting COVID-19."
"We were washing hands, but not in the right way. We were also observing social distancing, although we were not very keen. Today, a lot of emphasis has been placed on all safety measures. We intend to observe all preventive measures just like we did before, but this [time] we shall be keener and more strict."
Emmanuel draws his interpretation of the coronavirus on the board.
Other topics the facilitators covered included personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, and the ten steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights; operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations; and leadership and governance.
Trainer Jacklyne congratulates the elected student health club leaders.
During the governance session, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club. This group of students was unique as most wanted to be elected as the treasurer because they all really wanted to handle the finances. 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.
Tank maintenance session
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.
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.
Trainer Jacklyne distributes soap during the handwashing practical.
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 team of field officers to assist them.
Students must lead their peers in the handwashing practical to demonstrate competence.
In addition, we will 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 - stay tuned for an update on the celebration at Mukoko Baptist Primary School!
August, 2020: Mukoko Baptist Primary School Hygiene Training Postponed to 2021
Not too long ago, we reached out to share exciting news about completing the construction of the rain tank and VIP latrines at Mukoko Baptist Primary School.
A school staff member stands with the 75,000-liter rain tank at Mukoko Baptist Primary School.
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.
We are pleased to share that these new WASH facilities remain in tip-top shape and, in the case of the rain tank, actively collecting water.
Water flows from the rain tank's tap.
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.
1 of the 2 blocks of VIP latrines with ha handwashing station await the students' return.
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 student-focused 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.
June, 2020: Mukoko Baptist Primary School Construction Complete
Please note, all construction photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into effect.
Construction of the rain tank and VIP latrines at Mukoko Baptist Primary is now complete!
While Kenyan schools remain closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these new water and sanitation facilities will be ready and waiting for the students' return.
A school staff member poses with the completed rain tank
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.
Flowing water from the rain tank
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.
A block of VIP latrines with the new handwashing station
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.
A pupil who lives nearby came to see the completed projects
Thankfully, many of the students will have already received training in their home communities as we continue our COVID-19 sensitization and prevention trainings in the surrounding area. See how we continue to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines in all of the communities we serve.
We will be sure to reach back out to you with more news and photos from the training and handing-over ceremony of the rain tank once schools reopen!
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.
Students carry stones to the construction site (before schools closed)
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.
Students add to the rock piles (before schools closed)
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.
A community member helps break stones into gravel
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.)
Excavation of the rain tank site
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.
Adding stones to excavated soil for rain tank foundation (before schools closed)
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.
Interior cement work
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.
Dome cement work
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.
Support poles inside the tank to temporarily support the dome as it dries
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.
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 the school staff who continue to monitor campus during the break. 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!
May, 2020: Mukoko Baptist Primary School Project Underway!
A severe clean water shortage at Mukoko Baptist Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.
Get to know this school through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!