Mutwaathi Secondary School is found in a peaceful, rural location in Mutwaathi village in Southeastern Kenya. The school is situated on a small piece of land which hosts the school's 5 classes, kitchen, farm, staff room, and latrines.
Mutwaathi Secondary School was started in 2015 by the local community. Parents of students in Mutwaathi's primary section felt the need for a secondary school in the area as their children had been traveling for long distances to other villages to access a secondary education.
The 183 students that attend today are supported by their parents and the government. Students arrive in school at 6:45 am and attend morning preps up to 8:00 am. The school day continues until 4:00 pm and then the students have an hour to play games before going home for dinner.
The school contracts donkey vendors to supply water for their daily needs. The water comes from a local hand-dug well that is not a safe resource for water. The donkeys defecate near the well and it does not have a pump, so it is opened up and exposed to contamination every time someone wants to get water.
The school has spent a lot of money contracting the water vendors - an expense that is adding up to the detriment of the school. School staff say that the school is being held back since they have to spend money getting water rather than investing in the school and its students.
"Our school is really struggling with water access and getting a reliable water source. The current source has been expensive and unreliable at times, which is partly accountable for our slow growth and failure to start a boarding session, especially for the girls who travel from far areas," said Principal Kyalo.
Students are also impacted. Pupil James told us that the water challenges that face the school have affected his experience here over the past 3 years. Lunch is often late due to water supply issues, leaving the students hungry through their afternoon classes.
"We are also not getting enough drinking water while in school leading to some discomfort in class," he said. Dehydration and constipation are uncomfortably common companions.
We will build a 104,000-liter rain tank for this school, making the others look tiny in comparison. Because of how rarely it rains in Southeastern Kenya, this tank's large volume is designed to store as much water as possible during the seasonal rains, making more water available through the dry months. This water will benefit the students, teachers, and supplementary staff.
Parents will mobilize the materials needed for construction, including sand, stones, and water. They will also lend their strength and time to help with the construction. We will complement their materials with a skilled artisan to lead the project in addition to providing the tools, lumber, metal, cement, and gutter system.
As soon as the tank has time to cure, it can begin collecting rainwater for the school's use.
We will train students and staff on sanitation, hygiene, and other topics 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 rain tank and handwashing stations.
A total of 3 handwashing stations will be installed upon the project’s completion and before training. These are 1,000-liter plastic tanks fitted with 3 taps each, allowing 9 students to wash their hands at once. The student health club and school management will be responsible for making sure the tanks are filled with water and that a cleaning agent such as soap or ash is always available.