Water Blogged

Wavoka Project Complete

Posted by Steve Hall on April 5
Wavoka Primary School in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tank, which has the ability to collect 75,000 liters of water! We installed new latrines and handwashing stations for students, and we trained the school 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 from our implementing partner, The Water Project:

“The burden of carrying water to school has been lowered off my shoulders. I can now run faster to school and never be late knowing that there is water in school,” said student Clinton. “I plan to achieve the marginal passing mark in my forthcoming end-term examinations. I have all the time to stay in my class and learn, unlike before when teachers would pop on us to run to the stream to fetch water for the kitchen.”

Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new rain tank on campus.

“As a teacher in this school, I’ll have enough time to teach these pupils since most of their time had been wasted when they went fetching water for cleaning purposes. I’ll also have clean drinking water since we have always relied on pupils carrying water from home for our consumption. Yet, we couldn’t even ascertain its purity,” said teacher Josphine Waswa. “Looking at my work schemes, I’ll be able to complete the syllabus before time since I see the pupils having enough time to be in class.”

The lead field officer for the project, Lillian Achieng’, noted that, especially in a school compound with otherwise humble facilities, the rain tank had given the school a unique “facelift.”

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 of the tank, where we also installed 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 a great 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.

VIP Latrines
This project funded the installation of 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.

Handwashing Stations
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.

New Knowledge
Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the principal’s help, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for the school. When the training day arrived, facilitators, Lillian Achieng’ and Nelly Chebet deployed to the site to lead the event. 22 people attended the training, which we held partially in a classroom and partially outside under a tree within the school compound.

We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics. These included personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights, operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, 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 greatly 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.

“The training has really changed my perspective when it comes to taking care of our facilities in the school. I have often ignored them and thought it’s the responsibility of the teachers to take care of our items in school. From today, I’ve learned that the wellbeing of the tank and the toilets are my responsibility,” said student Cynthia, the elected Treasurer of the student health club.

“Myths arising from grown-ups in my village had made me believe that COVID-19 is just but a rumor. I had even stopped putting on my mask, but with today’s training, I am taking every precaution to protect myself from this disease,” said Real, the elected Chair of the club.

“Despite having lowered my guard due to the rumors, I still had that fear about the virus. With today’s intense training and information, the fear is gone. I know how to go about it,” Real added, referring to the basic prevention measures covered in training.

We asked Real 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.

“My education came to a halt, making us miss so much in terms of our syllabus. We are now back but catching up with the syllabus is so hard. I missed the class lessons, my teachers, and my fellow pupils. I also missed the games we play in school. I am happy being back. I can now learn and have the hope of being the nurse I’ve always wanted to be. Our teachers had the handwashing stations installed at different points in our schools to ensure that we often wash our hands. They also encouraged us to put on our masks, though some of us did not adhere to this. From the training, I’ve learned that I have to put on my mask always and put it on correctly. I’ll practice this in school and any other populated place. I will educate my mum and grandma on this too so that they protect themselves when they go out to the market.”

When an issue arises concerning the water project, 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’ team to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

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