Report by Okumu Sylvanus
Water, Sanitation & Hygiene – Improving the health of school children in Kenya
Highlights of our WASH Program in 2019
- 65,053 children were educated on hygiene
- 5, 934 liters of soap distributed
- 572 monitoring visits conducted
- 122 follow up visits conducted
- 187 health clubs trained
- 330 soap delivery visits
- 2 new schools incorporated into the WASH program
Village HopeCore International has been in partnership with Children Hunger Relief Fund(CHRF) since 2011. Through CHRF funding, HopeCore’s WASH program has reached out to 206 schools with health education and distribution of Water tanks and handwashing detergent with a common goal of preventing waterborne diseases with a target of reaching out to over 45,000 school-going children in Mwimbi and Muthambi Sub-counties in Tharaka Nithi County.
Our termly school-based Mobile clinic visits have continued to be beneficial to both the students and their teachers. We believe we can achieve total positive behavior change in relation to hygiene among children through continuous health education sessions.
We also focus on having sustainable health clubs in schools that are supported by trained teacher health champions.
Furthermore, we have devolved our WASH program to over 514 Villages in Mwimbi and Muthambi Sub counties through a network of 206 trained Community Health Volunteers(CHVs).
The CHVs have been instrumental in ensuring community members construct latrines, put up handwashing stations as well as educating community members on water treatment, the critical times for handwashing and other aspects of prevention of diarrheal diseases.
HopeCore’s partnership with CHRF continues to grow with boundless resilient and we really acknowledge the earnest reception that CHRF staff accorded our president, Dr. Kajira Mugambi and our Director of operations, Naomi Nyanchama during their visit to the USA in September 2019. We are happy to share with CHRF our 2019 programmatic updates and achievements as we look forward to a much flourishing year- 2020.
WASH Achievements in 2020
Tank Monitoring & Soap Delivery:
The WASH team in association with the field officers continuously delivered soap and monitored the status of tanks in all partner schools to ensure that the tanks are used appropriately and to ensure that the school’s management replaces or repairs the tanks in they are damaged or lost. The team also ensures that soap is available at the handwashing stations and top-up for the soap is done.
The team ensures that the WASH Logbooks are being used by the schools to indicate the dates on which the tanks were lastly washed or the soap toped-up, the logbooks enable our wash teams to hold the schools accountable.
New WASH Motorbike
Through CHRF’s funding, HopeCore purchased a new Yamaha AG 125cc motorbike for WASH monitoring and deliveries. The motorbike is fuel-efficient and it enables the WASH monitor to navigate the rough terrains with ease for routine monitoring and soap delivery in remote schools.
Teacher Health Champions Training
The one-day refresher training was conducted on 11th, 12th and 13th of January 2019 in three zones, a total of 240 teachers attended.
We recorded 71% turn-up by primary school’s health champions and 37% by secondary school’s teachers.
The teachers were empowered and challenged to take-up health issues in their schools by improving the hygiene and sanitation of their schools.
We also used this opportunity to recognize and award three schools that performed exemplary in WASH program in 2018, these schools had active health clubs, functioning, and well-maintained water tanks treated drinking water and availability of soap at all handwashing station. The health champions from these schools share their experience with other teachers on how to implement a successful WASH program in schools.
The awarding of the best schools for the year 2019 shall be done in January 2020 during the annual teacher health champions training and feedback session.
In August 2019, we held a one-day training for teachers from Chogoria zone, the teachers were introduced to the sanitation aspect of our WASH program and Vision Project for School Children; the vision project aims at promoting eye care among school children through training of health champions and students on eye care and free treatment services to children with eye problems. The trained teacher health champions support the project by screening the children to identify those with eye conditions who are then booked for the monthly eye clinic at our facility.
Visit by Children’s Hunger Fund Relief representative
In January 2019, we were privileged to host Marcus from CHRF during his visit to Kenya. HopeCore staff was very excited to have Marcus in the Village. Marcus had a chance to meet with the Sub County Director of Education and had interactive sessions with the teachers from various partner schools that he managed to visit. The visit was also a good opportunity for Marcus to have a real-time experience of our Mobile Maternal Child Health Clinics in the Villages.
Memorandum of Understanding
As mentioned in our 6 months’ update report to CHRF, HopeCore has an MOU with the Tharaka Nithi County Department of Health Services and sanitation. This is a major step in strengthening our partnership with the government; we are looking forward to having the MOU revised in 2020 to accommodate more of our program and to strengthen the partnership with the government.
School Health Clubs
HopeCore’s focus is to have student-led health clubs in all the 206 partner schools. In 2019, we had 187 active health clubs as compared to 87 in 2018. The 53% increase in the number of health clubs in schools is accredited to the efforts being made by teacher health champions to improve the health status of their respective school. The health club members ensure that their schools are clean by developing a cleaning program, they also water in the school is treated and it is safe for consumption.
In the third quarter of 2019, we recruited 374 school-based Youth Peer Providers (SBYPPs) who shall undertake three days of training on various health topics in January 2020.
The trained SBYPPs shall lead the health clubs and forefront WASH activities in their respective schools.
Community Health Volunteers
Community health Volunteers conduct targeted household visits within their villages/community units where they educate family members on various health topics and make referrals. Since the induction of CHVs into our health program in 2018, we have recorded a significant increase in the number of homes that have sanitation facilities. In 2018, the CHVs conducted 6,167 home visits where it was established that 82% of the home visited had a functioning toilet and less than 60% of the homes hand a handwashing station. In 2019, we recruited 154 CHVs hence having a total of 206, the CHVs conducted 45,004 home visits of which 92% of the home had a functioning toilet and 72% of the homes had both a toilet and a handwashing station with soap installed.
Through the practice of good hygiene in school and at home, both parents and the students are able to stay healthier, hence reduced medical expenses for the families.
HopeCore’s WASH program target in 2020 is to ensure all homes in Mwimbi and Muthambi have functioning toilets and a handwashing station in place through the support of the Community Health Volunteers.
Global Hand Washing Day
Village HopeCore partnered with Tharaka Nithi County Department of Health Services and sanitation to mark the 2019 Global Handwashing Day at Igwanjau chief’s camp.
The community and the students who attend the event were trained on how to make improvised handwashing stations using the locally available material. The county Minister acknowledged the good work that the CHVs are doing in the community that so to it 3 villages being declared open defecation free.
Base on the sanitation survey that was conducted in 2018 by Village HopeCore International in collaboration with United Nation’s Monitoring Program, it was established that over 65% Schools in Mwimbi and Muthambi Sub-counties had poor sanitation facilities (toilets/pit latrines) that were both environmentally hazardous and unfavorable to be used by the children.
Most of the latrines have substructures showing signs of subsidence and most are inexhaustibly requiring construction of new ones every three years. This has both been expensive in the long run with the initial sites posing a health hazard; they are both unsightly and students can easily sink in them when they are playing. The schools also lack menstrual hygiene management and only 10% have private changing rooms for girls undergoing menses. The poor status of the sanitation facilities in schools depresses the efforts of our WASH program in schools.
To address this gap, the WASH team has been meeting with Schools Boards of Management (BoM) to educate them on their roles and responsibilities in terms of health development in schools. The BoMs are also being sensitized on the nationally recommended standards of construction of sanitation facilities in schools).
The WASH team aims to advocate for the construction of quality sanitation facilities that meet the recommended standards (permanence of both substructures and superstructures, correct ratio of the number of latrines to users, ease of exhausting when full, and consideration of physically challenged students) and incorporation of menstrual hygiene management in schools.
We were privileged to get professional support from Steve Ashton, a volunteer engineer from the United Kingdom who supported in the initial planning of this project.
Quality Healthcare Kenyan Awards
Village HopeCore participated in the inaugural Quality Healthcare Kenyan Awards that was sponsored by Africa Business in partnership with AMREF. Our CEO, DrKajira was nominated in Quality Healthcare Leadership(QHLA) category where he emerged second nationwide.
The Quality Healthcare Kenyan awards take a health system strengthening approach to improve standards of health service delivery for better health outcomes by recognizing outstanding performance, fostering innovation and the use of information technology in uniting the public and private sector towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.
- The National Government Ministry of Education barred activities in schools during the 4th quarter in order to allow the candidate to prepare and seat for the national examination. This greatly affected soap and water guard distribution to the schools during the third term.
- Recovering water tanks from schools that had been closed was a challenge because most of these schools closed indefinitely and therefore it was difficult to track the school management for the recovery.
- Transfer of teachers from one school to another has been affecting WASH activities in schools. This happens when the teachers we have trained to be our health champions are transferred to schools in other counties.
Plans for 2020
Our plans for 2020 is to continue with the processing of soap and the distribution to all partner schools and incorporate any new schools into our WASH program.
- Conduct training for 374 School-Based Youth Peer Providers by the end of January 2020.
- Have refresher training for the teacher Health Champions in January.
- Conduct monthly WASH refresher training to 206 Community Health Volunteers.
- Conduct 3,000 WASH surveys in partner schools. (February and September) to determine the efficiency of the WASH program and the behavior changing trends of the students in relation to hygiene and sanitation.
HopeCore’s WASH program has made great contribution in promoting virtuous health status of students and the community in Mwimbi and Muthambi sub-counties, we could have not achieved all this if it were not for the kind donation and support that we receive from Children Hunger Relief Fund, we really appreciate CHRF for the continued partnership with Village HopeCore in promoting WASH program in 206 partner schools hence impacting the lives of over 48,000 children and the community.
As we move to the year 2020, we plan to continue promoting the health of the children in schools through the routine health education sessions and distribution of handwashing soap and water treating reagents. We also plan to strengthen health clubs in all schools by making the health clubs be more students led for sustainability, this shall be achieved through training of school-based Youth Peer Providers who shall be health ambassadors in their respective schools. We shall also engage the community through the BOMs meetings and the Community Health Volunteers training.
Our goal is to reduce student absenteeism as a result of diarrheal related conditions, additionally; we aim at having our villages declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the Public Health Department in 2020.
For more information visit our website: www.villagehopecore.org