"The water will salvage... much study time, boost their self-esteem and give them a sense of belonging, a hope and a future."Teacher Grace Nanjero
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).
Believe it or not, Esiandumba Primary School was once the best primary school in Kenya. This was back in 1968. But in 2015, only 30 out of 70 students passed their exams. Many students signed up for the exam in the beginning of the school year, skipped class the entire year and just showed up for the test! There’s a high dropout rate here now that’s attributed to extreme poverty, parental negligence, and some more traditional beliefs. Eight students signed up to take the exam haven’t shown up since, and missing cases are filed with police. There’s a strong local belief that back in the 70s, a person cursed the school out of jealousy.
Current member of parliament, Mr. Chris Omulele, attended Esiandumba. He has been notified of the challenges his alma mater faces, and is responsible for directing the government’s Community Development Fund (CDF) to build five classrooms. Beyond these rooms, the school can’t afford to build any water, sanitation or hygiene facilities that they so desperately need.
Esiandumba Primary School has an enrollment of 680 students and employs 15 teachers and three support staff. (Editor’s Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This school would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)
Students arrive at 6:45AM to clean. Girls are responsible for cleaning inside, and boys pick up litter outside. Sweeping and mopping the dusty floor has infected many of these girls with jiggers. Students attend a morning prep class after cleaning is finished, which is like a study hall. Instead of morning preps on Monday, students assemble outside for announcements.
Regular class begins at 8AM and goes until 12:40PM when students break for lunch. After afternoon classes, students attend another study hall.
Since Esiandumba Primary doesn’t have its own water source, students are required to bring a full jerrycan of water. This water is used for the morning cleaning, lunchtime cooking, and drinking. When water is used up, students are sent to the nearby protected springs.
The pupils are usually sent to fetch water from either Siakamtoyo or Makucha Spring. Many pupils go to fetch water from Siakamtoyo Spring, which is protected and has a very good discharge. Unfortunately, the community overcrowds it and students must wait in a long line. Some of the pupils go to Makucha Spring which was once protected, but is in very bad shape now. The deputy headteacher said that from the beginning, this community has complained that construction work for Makucha Spring was not well done. Water just leaks out and very little flows through the discharge pipe, also forcing students to wait a long time for water. This chips away at much of their class time.
Water is then split between the kitchen and classrooms. Community members testify that the springs’ water is not contaminated; they don’t get sick. However, it’s likely that students don’t handle their water properly on the way back. And after walking the one and a half kilometers each way to the springs, students are too tired to focus in class.
The water that students fetch is always prioritized for drinking and cooking.
There are 10 pit latrines. Many others were destroyed as construction on the nearby road moved through. Six of the 10 latrines are for the 330 girls, and two latrines are for the 350 boys. The leftover block of two latrines are reserved for the teachers. Most of these latrines are nearly full.
Students and teachers expressed their concern about the few latrines, especially for the boys. They also agreed that it’s uncomfortable and improper to be using them since they’re almost full. The deputy headteacher said, “I am disturbed by the fact that these children don’t have any source of water in the school. Therefore, most of them do not wash their hands after using the pit latrines, which predisposes them to hygiene-related diseases.”
When adequate water is available on school grounds they will be able to keep both their facilities and themselves free from germs.
Training will be held for two days. The facilitator will use PHAST (participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation), ABCD (asset-based community development), CTC (child to child), lectures, group discussions, and handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good practices within the school. The CTC method will prepare students to lead other students into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school. This CTC club will oversee the new facilities, such as hand-washing stations, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The two hand-washing stations will be delivered to the school, and the club will fill them with water on a daily basis and make sure there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.
Two triple-door latrines will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Normally, we designate three doors for each gender. However, Esiandumba Primary needs all six doors to go to the boys since a majority of their latrines were demolished by the nearby construction.
A 30,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will also help gather the needed materials such as sand, rocks, and water from the spring for mixing cement. Once finished, this tank can begin catching rainfall that will be used by the school’s students and staff. Students will no longer have to leave their school in search of water!
Teacher Owith Tobias Aggrey was excited to meet us during our first visit. “I’m delighted to hear that your organization has sent you here to visit, because we need urgent assistance. Our government through the CDF has constructed five classrooms for us. They are not ready to add more facilities when other needy schools have not been helped in any way. As for now, you are our only hope!”
Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO) works together with less privileged and marginalized members of communities in Western Kenya to reduce poverty through harnessing and utilization of local resources for sustainable development.