Please note, original photos were taken before the pandemic.
St. Peter's Ebung'ale Primary School was established in 2013 by the National Government Constituency, and it is sponsored by the Anglican Church of Kenya. It was the community that saw the need for this school to be established since there was no other primary school in the immediate area. The school has completed the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education twice, and received positive results.
But for the 516 students and teachers on campus, there is no source of water on school grounds. The school relies on a spring about 1 kilometer away, sending students throughout the day to fetch water to cover all of the school's drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. It is hard for the school to meet its water needs when it depends on the children to fetch it with only their small containers. There is no central storage container on campus, so the school can only store as much as the students collect in their small jerrycans.
When the spring dries up, children must carry water from home to school, though teachers report their water is not often safe for drinking either.
"Because of the lack of clean and safe water, the cooks find it difficult to prepare food for the pupils and even the staff because some pupils draw dirty water on their way to school. This makes the meals delayed, and study time wasted. The latrines are also not cleaned regularly as a result of lack of water on the school compound," said Headteacher Juliah Aswani.
Though the spring was protected at one point, it has fallen into disrepair and is also seasonal, meaning it dries up for part of the school year. The environment is not secure for drinking water since animals can access the water point directly, and the environment around it is not clean.
At the spring, the pupils have to wait for community members to draw water first. As the dry season approaches and these spring begins to dry up, its yield decreases, and the lines for water are long. Some students will also pluck sugarcane while passing through the farms to the spring, causing conflict within the community. All of this time spent fetching water equals a lot of missed class time, tired students, and setbacks in academic performance.
"When we go to fetch water, we have to wait for the community members to finish fetching before they allow us to fetch. We come back to school late, we go fetching water for drinking at break time, and we have little time to play," said pupil Samuel.
Consuming these various dirty water sources and the lack of water for handwashing leads to water-related diseases among pupils and teachers alike. They most commonly contract typhoid, diarrhea, and amoeba, they reported, in addition to pupils dealing with headaches and body aches in their necks and arms from having to carry water so many times in a day.
What We Can Do:
A 75,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will help 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 that will be used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.
We and the school strongly 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 will help to unlock the potential for these students to live better, healthier lives.
There is currently nowhere for students to wash their hands after using the latrines or before eating lunch, let alone the water to do so.
The student health club will oversee the 2 new handwashing stations we will provide, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The club leaders will fill the handwashing stations with water daily and make sure they are always supplied with a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
Currently, the youngest pupils have to share a latrine with the teachers. Several latrines have missing doors, falling-in roofs, and are almost full. There are far too few latrines for the number of students.
2 triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. 3 doors will serve the girls while the other 3 will serve the boys. All of these new latrines will have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and to 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
All primary and secondary schools are currently closed in Kenya due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are scheduled to reopen in January 2021. Once classes resume, we will schedule a training session with students, teachers, and parents. This intensive training will cover a wide range of topics including COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention; 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.
Our team of facilitators will use a variety of 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 at home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions, and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good hygiene practices within the school including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.