Opposite the Sacred Heart Mukumu Girls’ gate, there is a narrow road that leads to a pitch that partly hosts the school farm. It is also the access path to the spring that until April this year was the main source of water for the school.
Nearby, there is a slaughterhouse, where all the meat that the students eat is handled before it is transferred to the freezers in the kitchen. When we visited, the place was dead silent, with no human activity or animal in sight.
A few metres past the slaughter house there is a forested farm and a section planted with maize and kales. The plantation leads to a pig sty that sits atop a hilly area. We find a farmhand cooking githeri for the pigs.
There are a few pigs, each in a partitioned cubicle. Downstream, just a few metres from the pig sty, there is a spring whose water, we learn, is pumped to the school. It is enclosed in a chain-link fence. Fresh repairs of the water storage tanks is evident from the wet cement finishing differentiating the old from the new.
The mysterious illness has caused changes in the school’s water storage system. Alex Ngao, the school’s pump attendant, told us that a new water purifier called a Chlorine Pump Dozer, that has a bigger capacity, was recently installed following mass hospitalisation of students.
Ayub Savula, the deputy governor of Kakamega County, told Nation that while investigations were still going on, preliminary findings linked the Mukumu Girls sickness to contaminated water.
“There was leakage into the water system, which is why the Ministry of Education set aside Sh16 million to dig a new borehole for the school,” he said. A report seen by the Nation indicates that the school will now be supplied with water from the Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company (KAWASCO).