A Primary School’s running water keeps children learning longer and better
Solar powered borehole provides water to a primary school in Garissa County
Although the school bell ringing for break is rusting, the drinking water flowing from Daley Primary School’s new pipeline is pure and fresh. Clean drinking water, piped direct to the school, is something Deputy Head Teacher Wasula Samson Saiya has long dreamed of.
“In other schools, you hear of students having to travel long distances to access water. But we are very lucky here because we have water close to us - just 50 meters to the water point” says the teacher.
The Water Users Association (WUAS) - together with the Garissa County Department of Water Services and UNICEF - helped establish a solar-powered borehole connected to a network of pipelines that serve a health dispensary, a primary school and many water kiosks, as well as household tap water. 346 students in Daley Primary School, and teachers, now have access to clean and safe water from the UNICEF-supported solar-powered borehole.
The teacher holds an interactive lesson on the meaning of water with his students, many of whom come from pastoralist families. He knows he need not preach to the converted, these students already know that water means life, for people and for animals.
“Actually, the drought has affected us negatively in terms of population, most of the learners have dropped out of school because their parents have moved away to look for pastures” explains the teacher. “Most of the pupils look after the domestic animals. So during a drought like this, you find they also move with those animals to graze. We have fewer pupils in classes and they will not be able to answer the questions properly in their exams”.
2.5 million children in Kenya are out of school, and 90% of out of school children are living in arid and semi-arid regions of the country like Garissa. These regions are three times more likely than urban areas to have children dropping out of school.
This area is currently being ravaged by a drought which began in 2021, the scale and impact of which has not been witnessed in 40 years. Following five below average and failed rainy seasons, 5.1 million people lack access to safe water. In Garissa, 90% of open water sources are reportedly completely dried up. Compounding the impact of the drought, is the lack of working boreholes, many of which were destroyed by floods which hit the region in 2020.
UNICEF provided both financial and technical support to drill and equip a solar powered borehole and construct a new pipeline extension to connect the existing water supply infrastructure to key areas. An estimated 6200 people including 246 school children (200 boys and 146 girls) from both the Daley Primary School and the local Early Childhood Development Centre (ECDC) now have access to a safe water supply.
“It saves time when it comes to the classes... you know, in our areas, it's very dry and it's very hot” explains the teacher. “So we allow pupils to access the water after every 30 minutes...instead of going home.”
Despite rainfall, there is no recovery predicted for 2023. Recovery is currently estimated to take 2-4 years. UNICEF is appealing to maintain funding for drought response and all its ramifications.
Osman, 11, a pupil at the school, outlines the situation very simply. “We need water for drinking, both for animals and human beings”.