The issue of water scarcity prevents many children from getting the most out of their education in southeast Kenya. Speaking with members of the St Stephen's Primary School community, we learn how a school water tank can positively influence the academic experience.

Two years after completing their school water tank project, the St. Stephens Primary School community continues to beam with joy at the impact it has had on school life. The water tank was constructed at the school in 2019 by the Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), with the support of Excellent Development, and has been providing the school with a perennial water source ever since.

During a recent visit, ASDF were received into a friendly atmosphere and witnessed the lush greenery that now surrounded the school, which was provided by an immaculate mixture of trees and other plants.

They met the school’s Headteacher, Peter Kyalo, who kindly shared his insight regarding the school’s progress as a result of the presence of the water tank.

In an area without water, people struggle but where there is water, people flourish" a jovial Peter commented as he gave a tour around the school.

"Thanks to the presence of the water tank, we have seen impressive academic performances. Our class eight’s initial mean score has always stood at around 330. However, since the implementation of the water tank, their mean score has shot up to 390 out of 500 during the academic year" he stated.

Peter Kyalo - Headteacher of St Stephen"The school has experienced tremendous growth in the past two years; students are now learning in a peaceful and friendly environment. The programmes have been running seamlessly with no interruptions, thus creating more time for our students to concentrate on their studies."

Peter Kyalo, Headteacher of St. Stephen's Primary School, southeast Kenya.

According to Peter, the water tank has given the school a great boost to the degree that their student enrolment has increased to 283 students from a prior 240. He explained that the presence of the tank has enabled them to embark on projects that will steer the school’s growth and expansion in the years to come.

"Previously, we would spend close to 70,000 Kenyan Shillings (KES) - approximately £470 - termly to purchase water from bowser companies. Now this money has been channeled to infrastructural development. Currently, we are constructing a better dining hall so that our students can dine in a sheltered place" he explained.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the schools were closed, I stayed behind and utilized the water from the tank to engage in farming activities. I planted maize, onions and kales in the school’s fallow farm for commercial purposes and to raise funds for the school. I earned KES 500,000 (approximately £3380) and these proceeds were directed to the completion of the dining hall, payment of our staff, and school renovations" he added.

Peter proclaimed that the presence of the water tank has changed their school positively and that everyone was happy about its impacts on school life.

ASDF also met Mary Wayua, a 13-year-old student at St. Stephen's School, who voiced her delight at her experiences in school since the construction of the water tank:

"Nowadays, our meals are served on time and there is plenty of water to drink. We have had enough water for hand washing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our classrooms, dormitories and latrines are now cleaned frequently. The general hygiene, sanitation and school environment has improved."

Mary Wayua - Student at St Stephen"The water tank has been very helpful to us as students here in school. I can now concentrate better on my studies because I do not have to worry about lacking water.”

Mary Wayua, student at St. Stephen's Primary School, southeast Kenya.

Both Peter Kyalo and Mary Wayua expressed their gratitude for the support granted to the construction of the water tank in their school.

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