The 307 students at DEC Kitonki Primary School face a lot of challenges accessing clean and safe water. Over the years, attempts to solve the school's water crisis failed. For years, the school and community have been suffering for access to clean and safe water, sending them to other places in search of it.
At school, the students are dispatched to find water in the morning and again in the afternoon, just before school is out for the day. Currently, the school only has access to a well during the rainy season when the water table is high. The rest of the year, the well sits dry and students have to look elsewhere for water.
"The current water situation at school and in the community has reached a stage of a great emergency. Very soon, we are going to start regular trips to the stream or risk standing in the long lines," said Isatu, a teenaged student at the school.
The water crisis here is sending students like Isatu to other parts of the village in search of water. The students travel far distances along the busy road, endangering their lives with the traffic. And sometimes, all their effort is wasted when they return empty-handed.
The school's lack of water has worsened the hygiene and sanitation conditions of both the school and the neighboring houses. Water is critical in maintaining a disease-free environment, yet all of the drinking buckets and handwashing stations provided by the government sit unused most of the time because of the school's lack of water.
"The lack of proper hygiene and sanitation at the school is due largely to the lack of water. I can afford to buy water to drink, but I cannot say that for my students and the other teachers. The lack of adequate water at the school gives students a reason to go outside of the compound," said Ya Alimamy Kamara, a school teacher.
"I get more excuses from students to go outside of the school to the community to get water to drink than anything else. It is the responsibility of the school to provide water to all students and staff."
The proposed project will provide sufficient and clean water all year round by converting the existing hand-dug well into a borehole. The conversion will help the school to have water that is freely available without the fear of seasonal drying.
To rehabilitate the well, the pump will be removed, and a hand auger will be lowered inside and powered by a drill team. This hand auger will allow the team to drill several meters deeper to hit a sufficient water column to ensure the well supplies water throughout all seasons.
As the team drills, the casing will be installed, transforming the bottom of this hand-dug well into a borehole. PVC piping will connect this lower system directly to the pump, a construction that we know will also improve the quality of water.
Once this plan is implemented, everyone within the school will have access to safe drinking water in quality and quantity, even through the dry months.
DEC Kitonki Primary School
The school's construction began in 1999 and ended in 2000 with an enrollment of 311 pupils. Shortly before the end of the civil war, parents and guardians began to see the benefits of an education. All schools built at the end of the war saw a sharp increase in enrollment, with some students coming to school who have exceeded the primary school age limit. The school administration says it is in constant competition with the local fishing boats for their students' attendance as some young people are more interested in getting a fast income than investing in their education, teachers say.
Hygiene and Sanitation Training
There will be hygiene and sanitation training sessions offered for three days in a row.
After our visit, the hygiene and sanitation trainer decided it would be best to teach community members how to build a tippy tap (a hand-washing station built with a jerrycan, string, and sticks). They will use these tippy taps for handwashing demonstrations and will also teach about other tools like dish racks and the importance of properly penning in animals.
This training will also strengthen the water user committee that manages and maintains this well. They enforce proper behavior and report to us whenever they need our help solving a serious problem, like a pump breakdown.