Rivers, lakes and creeks arewidely used by students andthe community as their mainsource of water.Before God Aburo PrimarySchool received a borehole aspart of the SWASH+ Project, thismuddy and stagnant creek wasused for drinking andhandwashing water.
SWASH+ baseline datarevealed that the averagedistance to primary watersource in the rainy season was232 meters (.14 miles) for allschools, but during the dryseason the average distancestudents would travel was1,223 meters (.78 miles) forwater. The distance and timestudents must travel for watercan impact their attendanceand performance at school.
In some schools without water access, pupilsmust bring water from home in order to drinkand wash their hands throughout the day.Teachers are concerned that this system makesit difficult to ensure water quality.
Schools need on-site accessfor when rivers, lakes andwells run dry or prove to betoo far away.Rainwater harvestingprovides one option.
Boreholes on school groundscan also provide easy accessto safe water. SWASH+provided improved watersources, such as rainwaterharvesting systems andboreholes to assess theimpact of improved schoolwater, sanitation andhygiene.A SWASH+ study found a66% reduction indiarrheal prevalence anda similar reduction in daysof illness among pupils in“water scarce” schools thatreceived watersupply, hygienepromotion, water treatmentand sanitation, compared topupils in water scarce controlschools (Freeman, 2012).
Access to a water source is notenough to improve students’health and attendance—watermust be consistently treated inorder to be safe for drinking, andit must be provided every day.Schools received water storagecontainers and WaterGuard, awater chlorination solution, aspart of an intervention package toimprove school WASH.However, an evaluation two yearslater found that only 36% ofschool provided drinking water onthe day of the visit. Twentypercent of schools reportedtreating drinking water, but only9% had measurable levels ofchlorine.The top reasons for not treatingthe school drinking water wererelated to cost or low priority(Saboori, 2010).
Water vessel taps frequently break, making water storage difficult.Funding to repair the taps is very limited and prioritization of these repairs over other school needs is low.
Keeping the school water containers clean can also be astruggle, especially without soap or necessary supplies.
Water access, consistent provision, and dailytreatment are all crucial. Schools need theresources for initial infrastructureinvestments for boreholes and water storagecontainers, but also recurrent funds forinfrastructure maintenance and purchase ofconsumables like WaterGuard and soap.
ReferencesFreeman, MC., Clasen, T., Dreibelbis, R., Saboori, S., Greene, L., & Rheingans, R. (2012).‘The impact of a school-based water supply and treatment, hygiene, and sanitation program on pupil diarrhea: A cluster- randomized trial’Saboori, S., Mwaki, A., & Rheingans, R. ‘Is soapy water a viable solution for handwashing in schools?’ Waterlines 29:4.Photography by CARE/Brendan Bannon. 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.