In June 2014, work began on a project to improve access to clean safe water in Kandulyu and Musunguu Primary Schools, Mbooni East District, Makueni County, Kenya. As a result, 816 school children aged between 6-18 years – and their teachers – now have access to clean, safe water.
A rainwater harvesting system was built at each school. The system involves guttering being placed along the existing classroom roofs which then collect rainwater which is stored in 104m³ storage tanks.
The overall goal of this project was to increase access to clean drinking water which in turn, would increase school attendance (the children would no longer have to walk long distances to collect water to bring to school). In the long term, this project will also help to improve the sanitation standards within the schools.
Just a Drop aims to ensure that the local community is involved with a project from the outset. It is essential the community commits to participate fully in the project to encourage ownership of the facilities. This means commitment at all stages, from agreeing to the concept of the project through to the appraisal stage.
The request for support was put forward by the Musunguu and Kykaimba Self Help Groups (SHGs) which are made up of the children’s parents.
Though the tanks are constructed within the school compounds they are owned by the SHGs. Discussions were held with the SHGs and the local communities regarding the goals and objectives, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the beneficiaries. Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) – our local implementing partner – were then able to locate the most appropriate sites for the storage tanks and begin construction.
The communities surrounding each school were encouraged to provide local materials including sand, ballast, stones and water. The SHGs also volunteered their labour during the construction process.
The project wasn’t without it’s challenges. The area in which the project is based is semi-arid with extreme rainfall variability. With no water left in the unreliable existing tanks, the SHGs had to walk long distances to collect water, or buy water from vendors and then transport it to the project site using donkeys.
At the Kandulyu Primary School site, the original supply of local materials (mostly stones) was used up after constructing the foundation of the tank, so the group had to undertake the laborious process of collecting more!
Maintenance requirements of the new facilities will include: monitoring of the guttering system to ensure its effectiveness in draining harvested water into the storage tanks; replacing of the lockable water taps in case they are broken; washing of the tanks before the onset of rains.
The School Management Committee, together with the SHGs, will be responsible for the maintenance of the water tanks through contributions made by the school’s Parents’ Teachers Associations. In addition, the head teacher of each school will appoint a member of staff to regulate water usage.
A Health Club was established in Musunguu Primary School to ensure that hygiene practices are observed within the school. The Health Club officials were trained and tasked with teaching proper hygiene practices amongst the pupils. As a result of the training workshops, hand-washing facilities were provided around the school compound. These will ensure that pupils wash their hands regularly and encourage a culture of hand-washing and other hygiene practices within the school. At Kandulyu Primary School the same workshops will soon begin.
Over the next three years, we will monitor and measure the following:
- Better personal hygiene – The pupils are now more aware of the consequences of poor personal hygiene. They are expected to put their training into practice. The hand-washing facilities should encourage them to wash their hands regularly.
- The general hygiene of Musunguu Primary school is highly likely to improve once the recommendations made during the training workshops are fully implemented. This, coupled with increased availability of water thanks to the water tank, should enable the students to keep their environment cleaner and more conducive for healthy living.
- Greater awareness of hygiene and sanitation practices – The WASH training and Health Club at Musunguu Primary School has raised awareness for both pupils and parents on the importance of good hygiene and sanitation practices.
- Improved health of children – According to Ms Merry Ngui, the Deputy School Head (Musunguu Primary School), an average of two – three pupils used to miss school due to illness every week. Now that the schools have improved water and sanitation facilities, these numbers are expected to decrease.
- Improved performance in class and increased school attendance – The children no longer have to walk long distances to collect water and their overall health is likely to improve. With water on site, concentration levels – and hence performance in class – should also improve.
- Number of days water is available in the school – it will be important to ensure that the tanks are working well and that any repair and maintenance work will be carried out efficiently.
Just a Drop will also continue to check the functionality of the new water and sanitation facilities for the next seven years.
Mumbe Masyuko’s Story
“I am the first born in our family and when I left school in the evening I had to fetch water for use at home in a 20 litre jerry can. I also had to bring five litre can to school every day. (A five litre jerry can is a must for every pupil and failure to bring one results in receiving five strokes from our teachers).
I have been carrying water to school since I was in kindergarten. The water was not clean at all because it came from the river and was shared with many people, as well as livestock.
Sometimes, when the water was very scarce, I wasn’t able to take water to school and so I received the strokes from the teacher.
The new water tank has saved me a lot of time, so I will never miss my classes again and can study hard. In the future I would like to be a doctor and this can only be achieved if I don’t skip my lessons to go and fetch water. My prayers have been answered.”