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 from Kenya (edited for clarity, as needed):
Welcome to the School
Emmabwi Primary School was founded in 1961 by the Church of God. It faced challenge from the start, and closed down in 1962 for an entire decade. Emmabwi Primary School now has a massive population of 1240 students, 36 teachers, and four support staff. Its growth is thanks to the quality education teachers are providing at a low fee. Pupils from lower class families who live up to four kilometers away attend Emmabwi. Student Janet Anene told us, "Even though our school is poor, teachers do a great work in class. They teach us well and that is why we compete on the same level with those other big schools. No wonder we became position one in Emuhaya Sub-County in 2015!"
Entering Emmabwi Primary School at 7:10AM, the compound is quiet with no trace of life until you step into a classroom or office.
After general cleaning between 6:45AM and 6:59AM, students settle behind their desks for morning private studies until 7:45AM when they attend morning announcements. The first two lessons take 40 minutes each before students get a 10 minute break. These children flock around their old latrines to answer the call of nature, lined up waiting their turn.
Two more lessons are attended before lunch at noon. Form eight students eat sugarless porridge at school while the other children rush home to eat lunch and return by 2PM. Those that come long distances instead carry packed food or fruits while others carry five to 10 shillings to buy snacks sold by food vendors at the gate.
A few children remain in the classroom during a lunch. This handful of students rely on two meals a day and therefore stay hungry at lunchtime. When interviewed, a few of these students explained that they eat posho in the morning, which is so heavy that they don't feel hungry the entire day.
Under the scorching afternoon sun, pupils are seen running out the gate with jerrycans in their hands, as if in a competition. Their forms shrink until they disappear, only to return later, one by one or in small groups of two or three - carrying water for the rest of the day.
Classes pick back up until 4PM when students begin to play games until they are released at 5PM.
A local parent heard about a project completed at Esibila Primary School, and told the headteacher at Emmabwi Primary about the opportunity. The headteacher was new at that time and hadn't even met the board members yet. He feared committing himself to do a project that would require the cooperation of the board and parents. "This school is in urgent need of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and your idea is good, but I cannot accept a project before talking to the board, I don't even know whether I'm welcome here," he explained. This was back in the beginning of 2016. By the middle of the year, the headteacher had rallied support and was ready for a project.
(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 community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)
We then set up a time to meet with Mr. Victor Kutayi so he could give us a tour of his school.
The school only has a 3,000-liter plastic tank that when full, can provide enough water for two days. This is why students must bring water to school in their jerrycans when they return from lunch. When this is used up, the students are sent back to fetch more water from Mukangu Spring, a protected water source that is shared with the neighboring community.
The senior teacher said that congestion at the spring is extremely high during these dry seasons. He said, "Congestion witnessed in that place when there are no rains leads to wrangles with the villagers telling those from other villages to wait until locals fill their jerrycans. Our children also stay there for so long. They have to show respect to their elders by allowing them to fetch water first. This wastes their class time and by the end, lowers performance."
The plastic jerrycans students use appear to be dirty, and none of them have covers to protect water during transportation. The road back to school is extremely dusty, and there's no doubt that the water is contaminated by poor handling and storage.
There are only 12 pit latrines, and many of these are wrecked to the extent that they can longer be used. Some don't have doors, and others are practically full of waste. Even if all 12 were in perfect condition, it's not enough for a huge population of over 1000 students. Unfortunately, many of the students can't wait their turn in the long line and end up running behind the latrine building to relieve themselves.
According to a staff member who visited the school, "Having a glance inside the latrines could make one puke." One is met with a strong, disgusting stench, for many of the students seemed to have missed the pit. A closer look inside reveals that waste has almost reached the opening, proving what the headteacher told us on phone, "Our latrines are full, please we need your support to build new ones."
Not only is there a latrine shortage, but there is no opportunity to wash hands after. If there were hand-washing stations, there wouldn't be enough water to keep them filled.
Rubbish is collected by pupils every morning and thrown into an area at the edge of campus. However, wind carries it back to school grounds.
The senior teacher said "We have had many cases of diarrhea among our children, and I attribute that to poor hygiene. That training will be an eyeopener to this community because the representatives of parents, teachers and pupils to be trained will share that knowledge with the rest." Many people in Emmabwi Villge itself haven't heard how practicing hygiene has a huge impact on health. Clothes are spread out on the dirty ground to dry, people suffer from jiggers, and students attend class without having bathed.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training and Hand-Washing Stations
The students' are in great need of knowledge about hygiene and sanitation. During our visit, students were observed leaving the latrine and walking straight to the school gate to buy snacks. They were unaware of the germs carried on their hands and into their mouths. Even the women selling the snacks would take the money and then handle the food.
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.
These hand-washing stations are in the form of 50-liter buckets fitted with taps. These also have metal stands. Two of these 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.
Plans: VIP Latrines
Two triple-door latrines will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will be given to girls, while the other three will be given to the boys. These new latrines will supplement the extreme shortage that would force students to resort to open defecation.
Plans: Rainwater Catchment Tank
A 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will help gather the needed construction materials such as sand, rocks, and water 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!
We’re excited for this project to become a reality so that students and staff can focus on education. There will be an adequate source of clean water at Emmabwi Primary School! We expect that academics will improve as students have more time to stay in class without worrying about water.