Kasangi Simon, a 12-year-old pupil at Nzeluni Primary School, Mwingi County, southeast Kenya, shares her experience coping with water shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what difference a school water tank would make.

What challenges do you and your family currently face due to the pandemic?

“Schools have been closed since March, so I have been at home and engaged in routine household chores with my mum, brothers and sisters. We do not have enough clean water there to maintain regular handwashing and sanitation because where we get water from is very far away. I have less time to concentrate on school affairs because of the many chores allocated at home.”

What further difficulties do you expect to experience in coming months?

“The dry season is slowly coming, there will be more water challenges which will make it difficult to get enough water for the regular drinking, cleaning and handwashing."

How long do you currently spend having to fetch water?

“I have been going to fetch water with my mum from River Kalamba which is the water point for our village. We normally go with a donkey because our home is a bit far from the water point, it would take us more than one hour to get there, then another hour to come home.”

“Having access to adequate clean water would help us in ensuring we can have regular handwashing which would reduce the spread of the virus. It would also help us improve the level of cleanliness in our homes and at school – which would also have a better chance of reopening.”

Kasangi Simon, pupil at Nzeluni Primary School, southeast Kenya.

What is getting water from the river like?

“Water is fetched from a scoop hole by the river, and currently there so many people. On average one can wait for 20 minutes to fill the containers but the situation is even more terrible during the months of drought.

As for the water itself, it sometimes looks clear from its appearance, but sometimes it can be dirty. Often it depends on the time of the day (it tends to be cleaner very early in the morning) or if some animals have passed by. Animals often leave the water dirty and contaminated (because of the faeces they leave behind). This water has caused some of the people in my village to have stomach problems.”

How would nearby access to a school water tank and clean water help improve your lives and curb the spread of COVID-19 (and other diseases)?

“Having access to adequate clean water would help us in ensuring we can have regular handwashing which would reduce the spread of the virus. It would also help us improve the level of cleanliness in our homes and at school – which would also have a better chance of reopening.”

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