GBM Blog

Green Cross Sweden Fund –Smart Water for Green Schools in Nakuru County

September 17, 2013 - 09:40AM
Published by David Kamau

Improving school sanitation and hygiene through learning 

“Now I can wash my hands more than 5 times a day, the pages on my exercise books are now very clean” Janet Chepchumba. The water crisis in Kenya is disrupting social and economic activities throughout the country. The crisis is due to not only the wave of droughts that has hit Kenya, but also poor management of water supply, under-investment, unfair allocation of water, rampant deforestation, pollution of water supplies by untreated sewage, and huge population growth.

Over one billion people worldwide do not have access to safe, clean water, leaving roughly one sixth of the world's population at risk of contracting fatal diseases and illnesses. Kenya has an annual renewable fresh water supply of only 647 cubic meters per capita and is classified as a water scarce country. Only 57 percent of the rural population has access to clean drinking water, and the time-intensive pursuits of water collection often prevents women from taking up income generating activities, and prevents girls from attending school.

Our Green Cross Sweden project focuses on providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation. By equipping schools and communities with rainwater harvesting systems, wells and boreholes, plus providing ecological sanitation facilities, this project provides concrete and sustainable solutions to improve the lives of people living in water poverty.

A partnership between Green Cross Sweden and the Green Belt Movement (GBM) in Kenya has completed a year and a half pilot project in the Kamara location of Nakuru County to enhance the state of sanitation and hygiene for school children through improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation. 

The Smart Water for Green Schools (SWGS) has built  two toilet blocks hosting 24 drop pits, four urinals, and three water tanks have been constructed and fitted. 

The project’s success has meant that the County Government has approved the replication of the initiative in Lari Primary School and Taita Mau-Che Primary School. 

This project is an example of how evaluation of a successful pilot programme can lead to expansion of an intervention to reach many more students and their families. At a recent meeting Mr Thomas Gesabwa, the Head Teacher, Kamara Primary School, thanked GBM and Green Cross Sweden for this initiative. The school has 460 pupils at elementary school level. The Kamara Sub Location has four public schools.

One of the toilet blocks

In February 2013, GBM evaluated the impact of the intervention on students’ knowledge and parents’ adoption of safe water and hygiene practices in the home.  The results of the evaluation showed that:  

1)    An improvement in students’ knowledge on correct water treatment procedures and knowledge of when to wash their hands.

2)    After the pilot project, an increased number of parents now treat their water at home, 14% as compared to 6% before.

3)    A 35% decrease in school absenteeism.

The school thanks GBM for the opportunity of transforming their children’s schooling through these simple and cost effective measures.

The Sky’s the limit

Improving water and sanitation has benefits in many different spheres including education– improving children’s attendance and community health. GBM’s network enables us to work at community level. Our work on water has always been an integral part of our projects and practical action continues to show how water resources can be managed even in the face of drought and other extreme water conditions.