Charles Oyugi, the head teacher at TondePrimary School, is committed to safe water,and high standards for hygiene andsanitation and is improvising solutions. Hemade water stoppers out of nails when theschool could not afford taps.While national standards for school water,sanitation and hygiene (WASH) have beenset forth in 2008 by the Ministry ofEducation, financial support for schoolWASH is inconsistent across the country.Funding for recurrent costs of WASHsystems, such as fixing broken taps andmaintenance of latrines, has not beenincorporated into funding for schools.School do not have a consistent fundingsource with specific budget lines, therefore,WASH systems must compete for fundingwith electricity and repair of classroomstructures.
Some schools allow community members to use theirborehole for a small fee as a community service. InWagai Primary School, the fees for water usually gotoward maintaining the borehole.
John Otieno fills out the checklist for his review of the facilitiesThe health representative monitoringsystem helps to keep schools accountablefor improvements, however, withoutincreased financial commitment toschool WASH from the government,conditions worsen and the financialburden falls on parents.
Pamela Akinyi, 42, mother of Willis, 8, and Winnie,10, harvests sweet potatoes planted on her land inKasboga Village, Kenya where her children attendWagai primary school Pamela sells extra sweet potatoes in order to personally contribute to the schools’ water and sanitation supplies. Her sacrifice helps to provide where the school budget falls short. Parents often personally sacrifice funds and supplies when the school cannot pay for needed maintenance.
"Sometimes the (sanitary) supplies run out and parents are called to contribute,” says Pamela. “They buy soap, bleach, even WaterGuard. Since SWASH startedchildren come and tell the parents what they learned in school and they listen and do the same things at home. Children want water to be treated and they wash hands after toileting" – Pamela Akinyi
Schools get resourceful byplanting and working agarden to supplement fundsand earn money for variousunmet needs. Vegetablesfrom the garden help provideschool lunches and extraincome. Funds from theschool garden may gotowards capital projects, newclassrooms or roofs, orsanitation and hygiene.
Farming helps schools supplement income for WASH expenses. At God Aburo Primary School’s sugar cane plot (pictured here), the School Management Committee (SMC) is responsible for cultivating and managing the plot, anddecides how to use the funds. Last harvest yielded 170,000 Ksh (1977.90 USD) and they generally harvest every 14-16 months. In the past the SMC has used the funds to buy WASH supplies, schoolimprovements, repair and maintenance, and motivational items for students and teachers (plastic chairs, cups, meals with SMC and teachers, etc.).
Emanuel Juma (white coat), chair of the School ManagementCommittee at Wagai Primary School plows his fields with help of hiredfarm hands. Juma personally contributes to school WASH supplies,buying soap or other supplies when the school runs out. “*The children+ used to be sickly, I think from poor water,” says Juma. “Now you dont find sick children sitting in the sun sleeping with fever. We need a combined effort from the Ministry of Health and the community so that if the NGOs leave there is a continuation of the program. "
Schools are able to save money andprovide students with soap by mixingpowdered soap with water in bottles.The ‘soapy water’ was an innovationcreated as a result of research on soapprovision at Kenyan schools.
Another innovation is placing soap on arope near handwashing stations. Thisprevents soap theft and loss of soap.
Schools have created shades over watervessels to keep water at a cooler temperature for drinking.
Students contribute to their school’s resourcefulness by bringing water fromlocal water sources (river or borehole) for the community of students to share throughout the day.
Students improvise in order to clean water containers. Instead ofusing purchased materials such as, a sponge, pad, or brush, studentsuse plastic material from a grain sack to clean water containers.
Students also helpmaintain WASHstandards by cleaninglatrines. When longhandled commercialbrooms cannot befunded, students makeshort handled broomswith reeds or treebranches.
Sustained school water, sanitation and hygiene takes a group effort and resourcefulness. Everyone – from parents, to pupils, to school administrators, to government – needs to be committed to ensure that schools have safe water, clean latrines, and good hygiene behaviours over the long term.A consistent school budget with ample funding and appropriate allocationof funds for school WASH is needed to ensure WASH standards are being met at schools across Kenya.
ReferencesPhotography by CARE/Brendan Bannon/Kelly Alexander.Photo essay by Julie Straw; edited by Malaika Cheney-Coker.SWASH+ is a five-year applied research project to identify, develop, and test innovative approaches to school-based water, sanitation and hygiene in Nyanza Province, Kenya. The partners that form the SWASH+ consortium are CARE, Emory University, the Great Lakes University of Kisumu, the government of Kenya, and the former Kenya Water for Health Organisation (KWAHO), and Water.org. SWASH+ is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Water Challenge. For more information, visit www.swashplus.org.