On a normal school day, a student at Mung'alu Primary School is expected to arrive by 6:45 am carrying a container of water. The water they bring is then used to help clean the school in the morning, to cook with for lunch, and to provide something for the students to drink during the day.
The 173 students at the school must bring water each day because there is no reliable source of water here. The children, some as young as 5 years old, are burdened by the physical weight of carrying containers of water to school each day. For some, it is simply easier to bring nothing and not have water until going home at 5:00 pm. The school feeding program has been stalled in the past and the students have had to endure long days without meals due to a total lack of water for cooking.
"Life in school has not been easy. Carrying water to school has been discouraging and a burden to me as it affects my journey in the morning. I pass by the nearest water point to get water and it has several times caused me to arrive at school late, leading to punishment by the teacher on duty," explained Maluki, a student at the school.
Some students miss school entirely to avoid having to carry water, said Head Teacher Winfred Mututa. And then there is the fact that the water the students bring is often unsafe for drinking.
"Some of the water we get here is dangerous for human consumption. Some of the containers come with colored water while others are smelly, both of which expose the school population to many health concerns," she said.
The school was started by the Mung'alu community in 1987 to create an educational institution in their village to meet the educational needs of their children who had been traveling for long distances to access an education. The school has been operating under the sponsorship of the Africa Inland Church while developing through support from the government, parents, and the Mwingi West Constituency Development Fund.
The time and money spent dealing with the water crisis at this school are holding its students back.
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.
3 handwashing stations will be installed upon the project’s completion and before training. These are 1,000-liter plastic tanks fitted with 4 taps each. 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.