Poor school reopening timing as no water

Some of Roysambu Primary School pupils suck water from dry taps in their school on January 7, 2016.  

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Efforts at social distancing, since April, are at level zero — save for frantic explanations about desks.
  • January was the best bet for reopening schools.

The Ministry of Education has issued guidelines and strict measures to be adhered to by schools against Covid-19 as they reopen.

According to the Health ministry, there are three key measures to be observed for the prevention of further spread of the coronavirus pandemic: Sanitisation and handwashing with soap, face masks and social distancing.

Water improves hygiene and, hence, a country’s health and wealth. Then-UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said on World Environment Day in 2003: “Water-related diseases are responsible for 80 per cent of all illnesses, deaths in developing world.”Frequent washing of hands is, in most situations, easier said than done, given the scarcity of water.

On a global scale, 783 million people lack access to safe and clean water, 41 per cent of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite high annual rainfall in most parts of the country and the fresh water lakes and rivers, Kenya crossed into the water-poverty arena in the 2000s, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) data.

But schools have an opportunity to provide sufficient clean water to meet the demand for frequent hand washing and other sanitary needs. The secret lies in roof catchments and tanking. Most schools use iron sheets for roofing. If gutters were fitted on all structures, schools would collect enough water for their use.

Conservancy measure

This is also an environment conservancy measure. Health facilities and households should also invest in roof catchments to complement other sources of water.

According to the latest population and housing census, 80 per cent of occupied homes have iron-sheet roofs but only a third of the population have access to piped water.

The Education ministry and its partners should consider financing the installation of roof water catchment equipment in all its built-up areas.

This will not only support handwashing and sanitary demands but also provide enough water for domestic use, especially in schools that provide meals and boarding facilities.

Margaret Mwaila, Nairobi

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Efforts at social distancing, since April, are at level zero — save for frantic explanations about desks. The education system is a train; if it stops, all the coaches do.

If all learners miss a year of study, there will be no negative sentiments among them. Force not square pegs into round holes!

There is a spike in coronavirus infections and schools could close again. Why are the experts punishing parents and learners? Rule number one: Accept the situation with a ‘parachute mind’ (works only when open). January was the best bet for reopening schools.

Maj (Rtd) Martin Wandahwa, Kakamega