Kakamega, Kenya, 20 July 2015—It was dawn of a new era for pupils of Matete Primary School in Western Kenya after UN-Habitat in partnership with the Royal Kingdom of Thailand together with the County Government of Kakamega handed over the just completed Water, Sanitation and Hygiene “WASH” facilities to the institution last week.

The “WASH” project is benefiting over 1,000 pupils in both in Matete Primary and Renja Primary schools. The project was established to accomplish the following objectives:

  1. Improve standards of school hygiene by creating a better awareness of basic hygiene practices among the school pupils and teachers
  2. Provide one rooftop rainwater collection system and one 45 m³ ferro-cement storage tank. Provide two improved sanitation facilities (each with four doors)
  3. Strengthen efforts to demonstrate the effectiveness of rainwater harvesting systems as a source of safe drinking water to schools and communities. Build local capacity amongst partner communities on construction of appropriate water supply and sanitation provision technologies and proper management for sustainability. Setup a health club to spearhead the hygiene behavior change in school

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Prasittiporn Wetprasit, Ambassador of Thailand to the Kenya and Permanent Representative of Thailand to UN-Habitat emphasized on the importance of Water. “Water is an inevitable factor for our daily life’s activities. We drink. We bath. We cook. We Plant. We cannot live without water.”

The ambassador expressed his gratitude in joining with UN-Habitat to support the WASH project in the great region of Lake Victoria. “We hope to see young generation enjoy healthy lives and become an engine to drive forward the country. We hope to see teachers and students share their hygiene education among themselves as well as with families and friend.”

Mr. Laban Onongno a representative of UN-Habitat said “WASH is a basic way to ensure the right to basic education. We believe children who have adequate WASH conditions at school are effective messengers and agents of change in their families and the wider community. It’s important for children to learn and to practice good hygiene in order to avoid water-related diseases.”

He also encouraged the school to participate in various events throughout the calendar year Global Hand-washing Day which is celebrated on the 15 day of October yearly and the World Toilet Day which is celebrated on the 19th day of November this will promote sustainability of the project as well as a way of being WASH champions among peers .

“The County Government of Kakamega takes special recognition of the financial support from The Royal Government of Thailand in collaboration with UN-Habitat to address sanitation and hygiene challenges in our schools”, said Mrs Ebby Kavai Minister Education, Kakamega County. Mr. Mandila, head teacher Matete Primary thanked the Royal Thailand Embassy, UN-Habitat and The county Government of Kakamega for having considered Matete Primary School as a beneficiary of such a project.

“This has seen the birth of a vibrant health club that is contributing to a clean and healthy learning environment, hygiene awareness among peers and community. Sustainability of the project is key in our minds we shall do all it takes to safeguard this precious project”.

Mr. Samuel Wetungu, The Kakamega County Liaison Officer said “We are glad to partner with UN-Habitat and the Royal Government of Thailand. We as a County truly recognize and appreciate this partnership noting that this is the first time for United Nations Human Settlements Programme to venture into Kakamega region. l am excited to see a dream that began with one step bear fruit, the children of Matete Primary and the entire community will forever cherish the kind gesture.

This marks a beginning of our work and great partnerships with UN-Habitat and The Royal Thailand Government in making the region a better place through development. We hope to engage with UN-Habitat and The Thailand Government in city planning, exchange programmes and wider areas of urban basic services including water and sanitation, energy, mobility among others.

UN-Habitat has been working with different partners towards making school a better place for both the children and the school community. This has seen the organization partner with various Private sectors among them The Coca-Cola Foundation in a project known as “Replenish Africa Initiative water, sanitation and hygiene project for schools in East Africa” which has implemented WASH in 20 schools within Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.