This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
Welcome to the School
Friends School Mukhonje Secondary is a mixed day school and boarding school, sponsored by a local church. The day scholars report to school in the morning at 6:30am and return home at 5:30pm. The boarders wake up at 5:30am and prepare for class. At 6am the boarders have their morning tea. All the students start morning exercises at 6:40am, and normal lessons start at 8:00am. The students will then have three lessons before break. After break, the students attend two lessons and are then dismissed for lunch. All students have a common lunch in the school dining hall. After lunch break, they have two more lessons and then are free for games. After games, the day scholars go back home while the boarders wait for supper to be served at 6pm. After supper, the boarders do evening exercises from 7pm to 9:30pm.
Since the school was established in 1976, enrollment has been fairly stable. But as of late, enrollment has decreased from 450 students to only 215. This is due to poor management and inadequate water and facilities.
Over the course of the day, when there is no electricity, students are sent to fetch water from a stream located 800 meters away from school. On average the students make at least two water trips for both personal and school use. It is evident that the stream’s water is contaminated; farming takes place extremely near the water point, so fertilizers and pesticides are often washed into the stream’s water. Most local women also wash their clothes directly in the running water, and motor-bikers often rinse their bikes in this same water.
The students’ schedules depend on electricity because there is a borehole on campus, but its not an ordinary borehole. The underground water is pumped up into a small plastic tank using electricity.
Either way, students and teachers alike often report waterborne disease after drinking this water.
The school used to have a total of 15 VIP latrines, but now only seven are in use. Of this total, two are for female teachers, two for male teachers, and the remaining three for boys. The other eight latrines were closed by Kakamega County Public Health Department, which visited the school earlier this year. This team gave the school a three-month notice sharing that closure of the school is imminent if it does not improve sanitation conditions.
Most of the girls in this school have dropped out altogether, while others have opted to look for other schools with better facilities. "The rate of girls dropping out of school is very alarming. We are really saddened by the turn of events. We urgently need support so that we can retain our girls in school. I want to spearhead change in the school!" Madam Marina faces all of these challenges only two months into her new role as school principal.
"I have run around looking for emergency assistance that will help solve the situation before time elapse," says school principal Madam Marina. Girls are forced to share the two latrines set aside for female teachers because all of their latrines were among the eight closed by the health team. "The coming of this project to our school is a miracle from heaven. Our school was about to be closed but because of the support from The Water Project, we will have water and good VIP latrines and our school will stay open. More girls will be encouraged to attend school," rejoices Madam Marina.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
Teachers, students, and members of the school board will be trained for two days on hygiene and sanitation practices. The training facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation), CTC (Child-to-Child), group discussions, handouts, role-plays, and demonstrations. CTC will be invaluable as they encourage child leaders' critical role in leading and promoting positive change in their communities. This training will also result in the formation of a CTC club that will be charged with overseeing and maintaining the sanitation facilities on campus.
Constructing a rainwater catchment tank will help the school store enough water so that when the electrical power is off, students can still access clean, safe drinking water. Construction of VIP latrines will save the school from closure and will also give girls dignity, encouraging them to attend and remain in school. The tank should also catch enough water to fill the two hand-washing stations being delivered to the school.