Kavyuni Salvation Army Primary School is situated in a rural set up in Machakos County, Kenya. It is surrounded by thick bushes and exotic trees - some of which have been cleared to create roads. The terrain leading to this school is a road made of clay which is relatively smooth during the dry season but quite impassable during the rainy season.
The school was established in 1974 by the community members in collaboration with the Salvation Army Church. The school began with only 2 classrooms but has expanded over time to have 2 blocks of classrooms ranging from Early Childhood Development classes to Class 8 students. Its growth to the more than 300 students today is attributed to the commitment of pupils' parents, the government, and County Development funds.
The classrooms are made of bricks with iron sheet roofing and they do not have cemented floors. The exception is the offices, whose floors are tiled. Next to the school is a secondary school that was also established by the community parents.
One thing holding back the school and its students is its lack of access to water throughout the year. The pair of 10,000-liter tanks on the school grounds are not nearly big enough for a school this size. Once the water in these tanks is completely drained, the students are often sent out of class to fetch water in a nearby earth dam.
"At times, we even fail to do our homework because when we leave school we have to go looking for water to avoid being punished the following day. We are always tired in the morning when we carry the water-filled jerrycans," said Faith, a student at the school.
The water from the earth dam is visibly muddy and very dirty as it is open to various contaminants from the area. It is also a favored drinking spot for livestock in the area, thus exposing the students to risks of contracting diseases through the water. Other pathogens in the water include animal waste, farm chemicals, and human waste - among others - which can lead to the contraction of water-related diseases.
Students have reported cases of stomachaches, diarrhea, and headaches after drinking water from the open dam. As a result, they have been known to miss school while seeking care and going to the hospital.
"Water scarcity is and has always been a major challenge hindering the development of this school. We strain parents to ensure their children carry water every day to school because we are unable to constantly provide for them; as a result, our academic performance is not improving," said Head Teacher Matthew Mbau.
The water that the students are expected to carry to school is usually not clean either, and one student complained that she attained a rash from the water.
The school's lack of water has led to frequent class disruptions and lots of missed class time. Cleanliness and sanitation in the school have been a problem and very hard to achieve; the latrines are rarely washed and the students do not have a handwashing culture. These factors combine to play a major role in the fecal to oral transmission of diseases at Kavyuni Salvation Army Primary School.
"When we get water, a lot of learning time will be saved. We will not be thirsty during class time and our academic performance will improve," Faith said to our team.
Rainwater Catchment Tank
We will build a 104,000-liter rainwater catchment tank for this school. This water will benefit the students, teachers, and supplementary staff. Parents will mobilize the materials needed for construction, such as sand and stone. They will also lend some strong arms to help with the actual construction.
The huge capacity of this tank makes the others look tiny in comparison; 104,000 liters should be enough water to carry students and staff through the entire dry season. As soon as the tank has time to cure, it can begin to collect rainwater for drinking, cooking, and cleaning!
Students and staff will be trained for 1 day. Those in attendance will form a school health club that will promote good hygiene and sanitation practices both at school and at home. They will learn all of the steps to proper handwashing, how to treat water, and how to keep their environment clean. The school will also be taught how to best oversee and maintain their new rainwater catchment tank and handwashing stations.
3 handwashing stations will be delivered at the project’s completion. These are 1,000-liter plastic tanks fitted with 4 taps. The health club and school management will be responsible for making sure tanks are filled with water and that a cleaning agent such as soap or ash is available.