GUSHING TAPS AND DASHING SMILES: Clean Water Improves Children’s Hygiene in Abduwak

Yamyam Primary School in Abduwak District Somalia.

Thorn trees stretch in a stubborn thicket for hundreds of miles in every direction of Abduwak District, Somalia. The region is characterized by hot and dry weather most of the year except for some unreliable torrential rains which fall in April and October. Amidst the hot blowing wind and the fog of red sand, Yamyam Primary School is a beacon of optimism in the desolate arid area. Yamyam primary school is a community school located in an IDP camp in Abudwak district, with a population of 130 students and 4 teachers. The school, however, faces a myriad of challenges.

Access to safe and clean water has been one of the biggest challenges for this school. Intermittent supply of piped water from the village borehole led to poor hygiene practices among the school population which exposed the students to water-borne diseases. This meant there was increased school absenteeism due to these diseases, while other pupils come to school late because they had to look for water before coming to school. If teachers became sick, classes were canceled for all students” Recalls school Principal Siciido Mohamed Abdi

Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) in collaboration with Medico International (MI) and German Humanitarian Assistance (GFFO) supported the school in the construction of a 5000L berkad (water reservoir) and the rehabilitation of twin gender-segregated pit Latrines.

A water reservoir constructed in Yamyam Primary to ensure a constant supply of water.

We used to buy water from nearby places to provide for the students which was difficult and expensive for the school. Things have changed because we now have a berkad full of water. The water is clean and safe for human consumption. We fill the berkad with water from the tap and it provides enough water for the school community, which has brought more convenience to the school routine, “admits Siciido.

NAPAD staff worked together with the school staff to ensure that the necessary conditions were created so that girls and female teachers would be able to go to school without interruption. This included the rehabilitation of gender-separated latrines and washing facilities in the school. The latrines have lockable doors from inside to provide privacy and security for the students. Also, a crucial aspect of the project was ensuring the sanitation facilities are inclusive to facilitate accessibility by people living with disabilities to guarantee that this group of people will be able to use the facilities as independently and safely as possible.

The newly rehabilitated latrines

Many of the female students have dropped out of school over the years due to shame and distress especially when there is no clean water at school to wash and dry themselves or to go to the toilet at all without disturbance. I believe that this is a new dawn for the education of our girls as they can now come to school and learn comfortably,” Says Siciido.

“I believe that this is a new dawn for the education of our girls as they can now come to school and learn comfortably”

Siccido Mohammed

Hand washing is now habitual and has enhanced hygiene practices among the pupils reducing diseases and increasing class attendance rates. Water gushing out of the taps has given the children nothing but dashing smiles and bright healthy futures.

Students of Yamyam primary using the new taps: This will promote hygiene in the school

Schools Awareness: Equipping Children with Legal Information in addressing FGM, Early Marriages and GBV

My father wants to marry me off before I can finish school, what do I do?’ These are some of the lingering questions on the minds of many students which was raised by a high school student during a legal aid awareness campaign which NAPAD conducted, traversing across Mandera East and North Sub-Counties reaching Primary and High School students. Early marriage and other legal issues such as rape and FGM emerged as key concerns school children grapple with in Mandera, like most parts of Northern Kenya.

Legal Aid awaerness on child protection at Ashabito Girls Secondary School

While about 23% of girls in Kenya under 18 years are married off mainly due to poverty and cultural beliefs, the Northern part of Kenya records the highest prevalence of early child marriages, standing at 56%. This is highly contributed to cultural beliefs that young girls must be married off at puberty to save their struggling families economic burden. Young girls exchanged as bride price are used as a means to sustain their families.

A student at Rhami Girls Secondary School reads through a legal aid flyer disrtibuted by NAPAD during the school visits

The school-based awareness on legal aid also revealed that FGM is an issue facing school girls and women in general, in the County with a high prevalence rate of over 90% . With the government pledging to end FGM in two years’ time on 2020 ahead of the global target, sensitizing children on their rights will accelerate the by enabling vulnerable children to have legal aid information that will assist them to seek justice.

Students at Border Point Secondary School during the Legal Aid Awareness

Through the UNDP Kenya supported Haki Kwa Wote (Cadaalada Dhaman), [Justice for All Project], NAPAD visited 4 primary schools and 4 secondary schools between January 14-22 informing students on their legal rights and responsibilities. Avenues of addressing legal challenges including forced marriages, early marriages, GBV, FGM, child labour, disrupted education were also addressed during the visit. Although NAPAD targeted 800 students, over 1,000 students were ultimately reached revealing the need for legal information.

Students at Khadija Girls Secondary School engage in discussion during a school visit

The legal aid awareness on child protection was conducted by paralegals previously trained under the Project. In Mandera East Sub County Schools visited were; Khadija Girls Secondary School, Border Point Secondary School, Warsan Primary School and Salama Primary School while in Mandera North Sub-Counties, Ashabito Girls Secondary School, Rhamu Girls Secondary School, Ashabito Primary School and Darumsalaam Primary School were reached. Not only did the schools visit sensitize and empower school children on legal issues and how to handle them, but it intended to make them resources to their peers and parents and guardians on opportunities offered through legal aid.

“Using a rights-based approach, the schools visit was all about educating and creating legal aid awareness to youths, in and out of school about their rights…”

Noor abdow, haki kwa wote paralegal
Noor Abdow, a paralegal conducts a Legal Aid awareness on child protection at Salaam Primary School

“Using a rights-based approach, the schools visit was all about educating and creating legal aid awareness to youths, in and out of school about their rights,” said Noor Abdow Ahmed, one of the paralegals conducting the schools awareness.

The Haki Kwa Wote Program is funded by the European Union under the UNDP Amkeni Wakenya Program and is part of the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD), a partnership involving the Government of Kenya, European Union, United Nations and civil societies, towards improving the delivery of justice services and use of alternative methods to dispute resolution.