AIC Ithambwango Secondary School doesn't have enough water storage for its 153 students and 12 staff members. Even if the school's two small rain tanks fill up entirely with rain, they empty out just as quickly due to all the school's water needs.
Therefore, most of the time, the school has no water source at all, and must purchase water from unreliable water vendors, who often run late or miss deliveries entirely.
Principal Sammy Muchiri (pictured below) knows all the money going toward water would do so much for the school itself...if only the school had its own water source.
"Water gives me a migraine, especially when I think about my students who are working very hard to see a better future, but water becomes a challenge," Mr. Muchiri said. "We are forced to change our programs because of water scarcity. It is also very costly to keep on purchasing water. [The] money [we] spend on the water is enough to cater to other developments in the school."
It's also discouraging for the school to have to spend so much when the deliveries aren't regular, and the water is of poor quality and needs to be treated before being used for anything other than cleaning.
"The water vendors are very expensive and not always reliable," said our field officer, Jefferson. "They delay a lot to bring water to the school. One may place a water order and then later discover that the vendors are far away delivering water to a different school. Therefore, you are forced to hold on until they come back to attend your school. Other vendors tend to lie about their availability not to lose the opportunity of supplying water."
The unreliability of the water supply means that the school sometimes needs to close unexpectedly. Other times, the school's lunch program is delayed until the end of the day or closed down for long stretches of time, leaving both students and staff hungry and agitated.
"The water shortage in my school makes me hate school life seriously," said 18-year-old student Jemmimah K. "Sometimes, we get late lunch, which delays our normal routine of school programs. Like in June 2022, we failed to take lunch because there was no water in the school."
With its own water source, the school will be much better able to cater to its students' needs. Students will have a more reliable schedule and, hopefully, full bellies for their afternoon classes. Access to water will help the learners concentrate and fulfill their dreams.
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.