By Alice Wekesa from CAFOD (Caritas UK)
Rakaso Letoole is 13 years old. She is a pupil at Lekiji Primary school in Kenya, and wants to be a nurse after her education. In the past, she would wake up everyday at five in the morning to go to school, yet her school is only one kilometre from where she lives.
“When we got to school, we would pick our small jerry cans, go to the lagga [a water source] where there is water in shallow pits dug along the bed, and we would fetch water to use in school.” The lagga is three kilometers away in a hilly terrain that is difficult to access. For her to be able to start classes on time, she had to do all that before the sun rises as it gets quite hot.
The ritual was repeated in the evening where the pupils had to fetch water to take back home for household use.
The water problem in Lekiji brought with it protection issues for children, as a teacher always had to accompany the girls to ensure that they were safe while fetching water.
On average, each pupil would spend up to four hours in a day fetching water. “We have a roof catchment system in the school but it has been dry for a long time because there is simply no rain,” said one of the two teachers in the school.
Recognising the problems with the situation, the Catholic Diocese of Maralal has drilled and equipped a borehole in Lekiji, with the main tank being around one hundred metres from the school. The Lekiji borehole will serve the Lekiji community as well as institutions around it, especially the Lekiji Primary school.
“Many students did not go to class the first day the water came. It was clean, and it was next to the school, and everyone was so excited they did not want to go to class. Some of us still forget and come to school at five in the morning, but we are happy that we no longer have to walk to the lagga to get water”