Tande Primary School stands a few meters from the busy Kakamega-Webuye highway. A rough road stretches from the highway leading you straight into the school compound near Butali town. The area is well vegetated, with farmers planting sugarcane and other subsistence crops in the neighborhood. Neighboring the primary school is Tande High School. The primary section currently serves 612 students and 22 teachers and staff.
The water crisis at Tande Primary School not only means a lack of safe, sufficient, and reliable water; it also means a lack of peace.
The entire school patches together water from several sources. First, the school requires all pupils to arrive at school in the morning carrying water from home. Some pupils have to go back home and bring water when they forget to do so as instructed by the duty master, or teacher in charge, each morning. This automatically removes these pupils from their classes until they show up with water.
"It becomes so tough when I am the duty master for the week. General cleaning of our classrooms and offices by the pupils becomes a cat and rat game between the pupils and me. So much time is wasted trying to get them to get water to clean the classrooms," explained teacher Davis Kituyi.
The schedule is frequently interrupted throughout the school day when the pupils need to fetch more water, especially for cleaning purposes, since much water is required in order to clean the classrooms and restrooms. This stretches the hours intended for cleaning, making the pupils miss more class time and sometimes get home late.
During the day, students use a small plastic rain tank on campus until it runs dry, which is usually in a matter of days due to the large student population relying on its small capacity. Sometimes the neighboring secondary school agrees to pipe water into the primary's schools tank. Still, to date, the supply has been unreliable and insufficient to keep up with the primary school's needs.
When the tank has water, students fight over access to its tap as it is the only water source on campus.
"I don't like it when we fight at the water tap. It causes a lot of enmity amongst pupils. The younger kids are always humiliated by the older pupils at the tap, which saddens me," said Sammy, a teenaged student.
When there is no water in the tank, students must return home mid-day to fetch more water. Students commonly use either a stream or a hand-dug well in one of their classmate's homes nearest the school. The well water is not safe to drink because it is not sealed off from the surface water and dirt that fall into the well, polluting the water. To fetch water at the well, students must lower a bucket attached to a rope into the water before hauling it up - a tiring and time-consuming process that further contaminates the water with each pull.
Whether it is water from the stream or the well, the water is not safe for students to drink. Many students report cases of stomachaches and headaches after drinking water at school from varied sources. Since water is combined for use at school, mixing even one contaminated source with others means all students are at risk of water-related illnesses. When students get sick, they lose even more class time, and their families have to spend their precious financial resources on their children's medical treatment.
What We Can Do:
A 75,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will 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 used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, hand washing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.
The school and we firmly 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 unlock the potential for these students to live better, healthier lives.
The student health club will oversee the two new handwashing stations we will provide and ensure they are kept clean and in working condition. The club leaders will fill the handwashing stations with water daily and make sure they are constantly supplied with a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
Two triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls, and three doors will serve the boys. These new latrines will have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean. And with a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.
Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More
We will hold a one-day intensive training session with students, teachers, and parents. This training will cover a wide range of topics, including COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, prevention; personal and environmental hygiene; and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a particular emphasis on handwashing.
Our team of facilitators will use various methods to train, including participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation and asset-based community development. We will initiate a student health club, which will prepare students to lead other pupils into healthy habits at school and home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and promote good hygiene practices within the school, including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up training before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.