Poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions have severe repercussions on children; they are more vulnerable to water-related diseases, such as cholera and diarrhea, which are on the rise. In 2017, schools in the arid and semi-arid lands, particularly Mandera County, faced closure due to lack of reliable sources of water. This happened as the region faced acute water shortages following a country-wide prolonged drought.
Guticha Primary School in Mandera County welcomes 220 students. Access to water is a great challenge for the pupils as well as the entire school administration. The school lacked a permanent source of water and often relied on rainy seasons leftovers for cooking, cleaning and drinking. A few years back, the school was given an 8,000-liter masonry tank, courtesy of the Mandera North Constituency Development Fund (CDF) that they used to harvest and store rain water. The tank which had been used for years could not hold water anymore due to frequent leakages caused by its deplorable condition. Against this background, each child had to carry three liters of water every morning from their homestead to ensure sustainable water flow in the school.
Thanks to funding from the Centre de Crise et de Soutien (CDSC) of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ACTED built a permanent water connection and installed a 10,000-liter tank to ensure the time wasted by pupils to fetch water is maximized for studies instead. Along with the provision of essential infrastructure, all the girls were provided with sanitary towels, a crucial item to ensure adolescent girls do not miss school during such crucial days in the month.
The water shortage was greatly affecting learning but now we can proudly say we have enough water to cater for all our school needs. Many girls used to skip up to five days a month as they were too embarrassed to be in school during the menstruation period. This initiative will ensure no girls miss classes anymore because they now have proper sanitary pads to use.
For an even greater impact, ACTED conducted hygiene promotion sessions to ensure the students adopt best hygiene practices in school and at home.
Awareness raising on water, hygiene and sanitation in schools enables students to be agents of change as they encourage their families and communities to improve their practices.