Sanitation Project Improves the Level of Hygiene at Kyambiti Primary School in Kitui County

Modern washroom facility at Kyambiti Primary School

Clean water and sanitation is listed as strategic development goal number six that was adopted as a universal call to action by the United Nations in 2015. Access to clean water and sanitation matters because it is a human right. For quite some time, the pupils at Kyambiti Primary School located in Katulani sub-county in Kitui County were not entitled to this human right as they lacked a proper sanitation facility with no access to water posing a major health risk.

Kyambiti primary school was founded in 1962 under the sponsorship of the African Inland Church (AIC). It is a mixed public day school which has over 200 pupils. The school is under the management of an 18-member Board of Management and has a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) committee that oversees the welfare and education of the learners. The current headteacher, Mr. Paul Muthama joined the school in 2020 and first on his agenda was to uplift the infrastructure of the school. “When I joined, the school infrastructure was not in a good state; classroom roofs were falling, there was a lack of water and as a result, pupils had to bring water from home, and in addition, the pit latrines that pupils used were in a very poor condition. Together with stakeholders and a team of the school’s alumni, we saw the need to approach different bodies including NGOs, CBO’s and the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for their assistance and in our different interactions we met with representatives of Kyeni Kya Kyambiti a local community based organization ”, shares Paul.

Kyeni Kya Kyambiti community-based organization started operating in 2018 with four key developmental areas of focus including education, environment, community empowerment and running a youth programme. Kyeni Kya Kyambiti’s theory of change on education is to focus its efforts on the impact of the education standard in the primary schools translating to better grades for the learners who then transition to good high schools and come back to the same village they schooled in as qualified graduates. This is the focus that made representatives of the Kyeni Kya Kyambiti organization led by the Chairman Dr. Ray Mutinda to pay a visit to Kyambiti Primary School.

Dr. Ray Mutinda- Chairman- Kyeni Kya Kyambiti organization

“We went to the primary school and had a discussion with the teachers and noted a couple of areas that were affecting the performance of the school and interestingly enough sanitation was one of them. Very few people would imagine the link between sanitation and poor performance in the school.

Kitui is a hot area, and you can imagine learners going to a pit latrine made from iron sheets with an earthen floor. It stinks. After the learners attended to the deplorable latrines, they would not be confident enough to go back to class because the stench would still hoover around them, especially the girls. Again, we noted that there were no facilities where the girls would be able to comfortably change particularly during their menstrual period”, explains Dr. Ray.

With this background, Kyeni Kya Kyambiti began to fundraise internally as an organization towards the construction of two modern stone-walled toilet blocks for girls and boys each with four-toilet units that have a handwashing facility.

However, the funds raised were minimal and hence Kyeni Kya Kyambiti put down a proposal and began to look for partners who would come on board to fund the construction. Kyeni Kya Kyambiti submitted a proposal to Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) which was at the time running an open call for proposals under its Pamoja4change programme which is generously funded by KCDF’s institutional partner Wilde Ganzen based in the Netherlands. The Pamoja4Change programme offers an opportunity for communities to take charge of their development by raising 50% of the funds needed for the project and KCDF matches the other 50% of the funds. Kyeni Kya Kyambiti’s proposal to KCDF was granted at a total cost of Kes. 801,500 with the agreement that Kyeni Kya Kyambiti would have to raise the other half cost of the project at Kes. 400,75. This was after representatives from KCDF together with Kyeni Kya Kyambiti made a survey visit to Kyambiti primary School to ascertain the commitment to partner together in the project.

“We already had some seed capital upon KCDF agreeing to partner with us, and it became very easy for us to match what was coming but beyond that, we received quite a great amount of goodwill from the community, so it was very easy to mobilize the community members to bring in their materials in kind. I recall a community member who gave his 10-liter water tank to support the construction. We are also fortunate as an organization to have engineers and contractors amidst us and so we agreed that part of what we were going to give to the project is our own technical expertise. One of our members headed the technical design work of the project and another one was the project manager. The workmanship was mobilized from the community making the whole construction process cost-effective”, explains Dr. Ray excitedly.

Part of the Parent Teacher Association Committee of Kyeni Kyambiti Primary School

A total of 103 parents that were mobilized by an eight-member parents’ teacher association (PTA) committee gave of themselves fully to contribute towards the success of the project. The parents offered to chip in the provision of sand, water, ballast, and split labor roles as part of their in-kind contribution. The construction happened in June 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the challenges experienced were barriers in communication with some parents. However, the project carried on with the parents who were able to be reached via phone.

Left: Tabitha David, Pupil- Kyambiti Primary School

12-year-old Tabitha David is a grade six pupil who is aspiring to be a nurse. Tabitha shares her joy of experiencing the use of the new modern toiletLeft: Tabitha David, Pupil- Kyambiti Primary School

“I did not like to use the old toilets that were made from iron sheets and had an earthen floor and yet there was no other alternative. The toilets were dirty and produced a bad stench.

Handwashing facility

Now, we are very happy to use the modern toilets as they do not stink. We also have a designated area where we can wash our hands. Amongst ourselves as learners, we have a duty roaster to clean the facility every Monday through to Friday”, shares Tabitha.

Kyeni Kya Kyambiti representatives are glad that this initiative has made a difference in the learners of Kyambiti primary school. “They had never seen a water closet toilet and so you could see the joy in the faces of these kids as it was the first time they would go to a toilet and flash and even find a shower bathroom. That boosted their confidence, which is a keen aspect we were looking at as an organization. In terms of performance, we may not be able to tell whether it has improved out of this. Still, we would want to imagine that now going forward this confidence and the ability to access a modern sanitary facility is itself going to contribute to a high morale resulting to more time dedicated to their studies”, shares Dr. Ray.


The old washroom facility

Parents, teachers and pupils outside the modern washroom

Although Kyambiti Primary School has made significant progress in improving the level of hygiene and sanitation, there are still some needs to be addressed. One of the most pressing needs is the lack of a library facility for the learners. Despite this, the sanitation project has had a positive impact on the school, creating a cleaner and healthier environment for the pupils to learn in. “If we would not have got this funding, I think the situation would have remained as it was. We appreciate that a remote area like this one was reached through the support”, says Mr. Muthama, the Headteacher.