Water boosts health and education outcomes

Photograph of a man standing outsideFor years, the Sivilia Primary School struggled to provide water to its students. The school is in hilly Navakholo village in Kakamega County. “The school did not have piped water and we relied on a river which is about a kilometer away. This meant that pupils had to disrupt their classroom time to fetch water,” explains Evans Juma, the school’s head teacher.

During the dry season, the school asked students to bring their own jerrycan of water – between 10 and 20 liters – to school with them each day. “Pupils had to carry water from home in the morning. This was physically demanding, especially for our younger students and the ones who come from far away. Imagine a small student carrying a minimum of 10 liters for 40 minutes, then expecting that child to focus in his or her classes. Practically impossible,” said Evans.

All the changed this year when the school finally received its own working water connection through the Navakholo Water Supply company. Evans Juma, the head teacher at Sivilia Primary School, could not hide his joy when he talks about the difference the water has made for the school. “Having piped water within the school has alleviated our agony as a community and more so the pupils,” he says.

The availability of clean water is transforming health outcomes at Sivilia Primary School. The children are now guaranteed a cooked lunch and clean drinking water during the day, and the number of diarrhea-related illnesses treated at the school clinic have significantly reduced.

Clean water also means more time in the classroom. “Our students no longer have to carry water to school in the morning or go fetch it from the river. This has improved their ability to concentrate and excel in their studies,” remarks Evans. As proof of this, Evans pulls out the school’s latest national examination scores; the school’s mean score improved 20 points from 248 to 268 out of 500 since last year. “With this trend and the increased time the children now have in the classroom, I am confident we can attain a mean score of 300 next year,” he says, grinning.

The Navakholo Water Supply Company, in partnership with Kakamega Water and Sewerage Company (KACWASCO), is responsible for connecting the Sivilia Primary School to the water supply system. The Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) Project is providing infrastructure and operations support to KACWASCO to ensure even more schools and communities have access to reliable clean and safe drinking water.

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