Kabinjari Primary School in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tank, which can collect 75,000 liters of water! New latrines and handwashing stations were installed, and the school was trained on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention. These components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.
Here is the completion report provided by our implementing partner, The Water Project:
“As one of the students in this school, with sufficient water, I foresee improvement in my academics due to ample time for learning and concentration,” said Alvine B.
Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new rain tank on campus.
“Being one of the teachers in this school, I project a reduction in the cases of absenteeism by the pupils. With 100% attendance, I foresee major improvements in our academics due to a conducive learning environment. Infections related to water will now be a thing of the past as our water will be fit for consumption,” said Phoebe Iminza, senior teacher.
How We Go From Ground to Rain Tank
Construction for this 75,000-liter rain tank was successful! Parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. The school’s kitchen staff and a few parents helped provide meals for the artisans, while the school provided the artisans’ accommodations. Local women and men helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.
The process officially began with our staff and school administration looking around the school compound to determine the best location for a new rain tank. This needed to be the best site with enough land and a nearby building with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater. Then, we cleared the site by excavating the soil to make level ground for the tank foundation. We cast the foundation by laying big stones on the level ground and reinforcing them using steel wire, concrete, and waterproof cement. We affixed both the drawing pipe and the drainage pipe as we laid the foundation. Next, we formed the walls using a skeleton of rebar and wire mesh with sugar sacks temporarily tied to the outside as backing. We attached this to the foundation’s edges so that the work team could start the Ferro-cementing process. They began layering the walls with cement, alternating with the inner and outer side until six cement layers were in place. (The sugar sacks are removed once the interior receives its first two layers of cement.)
Inside the tank, we cast one central and four support pillars to ensure the dome does not cave in once cemented. Meanwhile, we plastered the inner wall while roughcasting the outer walls. We dug and plastered the access area to the tap outside the tank, installing a short staircase. In front of the access area, we constructed a soak pit where spilled water can drain from the access area through the ground. The pit helps to keep the tap area dry and tidy.
Dome construction could begin after the tank walls settled. We attached a dome skeleton of rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks to the tank walls before cementing and plastering it using similar techniques as the wall construction. We included a small manhole cover into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments. We propped long wooden poles (about 75 of them!) inside the tank to support the dome while it cured. Then it was down to the finishing touches: fitting a lockable cover over the tap area, affixing the gutters to the roof and tank, and setting an overflow pipe in place at the edge of the dome for when the tank reaches capacity. Once finished, we gave the rain tank three to four weeks to undergo complete curing. Finally, we removed the interior support poles and dome sugar sacks and cleaned the tank.
We officially handed over the rain tank to the school directly following the training. Students and staff celebrated the presence of clean water on campus. The event was an excellent chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we have given and remind them of our continued support as they develop. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.
This project funded six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, three for the girls and three for the boys. These new latrines have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean, locking doors for safety and privacy, and vents designed to keep air flowing up and out through the roof. With a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.
The two handwashing stations were set up during training and handed over to the student health club. These were placed outside of the girls’ and boys’ latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use. Health club members will teach other students how to wash their hands at the stations properly, make sure the stations are filled with water, and ensure that there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash available.
We scheduled hygiene and sanitation training with the school’s staff, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for pupils and teachers. When the training day arrived, facilitators Patience Njeri and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event. Eighteen students and teachers attended the training, which we held inside a classroom. The weather was calm and hot, so we held our hygiene and sanitation training inside a classroom. We maintained physical spacing in consideration of COVID-19 and still managed to create an atmosphere that encouraged participation and learning.
We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics. These included personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, and the ten steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights; operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations; and leadership and governance. During the latter, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club. The club will be significantly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at school. It will encourage good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community. We involved stretches, dances, and physical activities between each topic to keep the pupils’ energy up and their minds active. By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.
One of the most memorable topics was Covid-19 and Coronavirus. The participants wanted confirmation from the facilitator on whether Covid-19 is real. The facilitator confirmed that it is real. It has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health.
“For one to live a good life, one needs to be of good health. When we observe and maintain good hygiene and sanitation standards, we are guaranteed healthy living. Today’s training has been enriching to me, and I promise to maintain the positive side of all I have learned,” said Everlyne V.
“We have been taught how to improvise a handwashing facility. Quite a number of households in the villages don’t have handwashing facilities as they are not able to afford them. This has always hindered them from frequent washing of their hands. As one of the ambassadors, this knowledge has to reach every household beginning today so that our people live a healthy life,” said Michael K, chairperson of the student health club.
We asked Michael what it was like to be at home for most of the last year due to Kenya’s national coronavirus-related school closures and what it has been like coming back to school. “I entirely missed my teachers and fellow classmates. Today, I feel good being with them. Finally, there is hope in my life. I am taking my studies more seriously so as to be on par with the many students who want to be successful in life.”
When an issue arises concerning the tank, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.
Thank you to the following for making all of this possible!