Over 2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, and in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 3 billion people do not have access to basic handwashing facilities.
In Bungoma County, the Ministry of Education and public health officials have come together to address this issue and improve hygiene conditions in schools through the WASH Sanitation Project.
During a stakeholder meeting in Bungoma town, Caleb Omondi, the Ministry of Education County Quality Assurance and Standards Director, emphasized the importance of such interventions in increasing school attendance and improving students’ academic performance.
He noted that many learning institutions in the area still lack enough clean water points and storage facilities, which makes it difficult to provide enough water for students.
Omondi also pointed out that every learner in a boarding school requires at least 20 liters of water per day, while day school students need five liters per learner.
He emphasized that this will only be achievable through the mobilization of various key players from the Ministry of Education, Health Department, County Government of Bungoma, and non-governmental organizations like AMREF Health Africa, USAID-KENYA, and Vast guard.
To ensure proper sanitation in schools, Omondi recommended that schools have at least one pit latrine hole for every 25 students in girls’ schools and 30 in boys’ schools.
He also highlighted the need for functional urinal units that are friendly to special needs learners and proper waste management systems and disposal mechanisms.
Public health officials, including Alfred Nyongesa Aureh and Solomon Mwaniki from AMREF Health Africa, noted that these interventions will play a pivotal role in tackling waterborne diseases such as bilharzia and other infections like ringworms and jiggers infestation among students.
Mwaniki shared that Bungoma County has a prevalence of 4.6% bilharzia infections among students, which needs to be reduced to below 2%.
The WASH project is currently being implemented in Bungoma, Vihiga, Kakamega, and TransNzoia counties in the Western region of Kenya, targeting schoolchildren to improve their sanitation for quality education.