Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,212 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/22/2024

Project Features

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The area around Bukhakunga Primary School is green and well-vegetated. The school is located near the Bukhakunga market, where community members carry out different businesses. The rural area is quite busy, too, because of the trucks carrying sugarcane and the motorbikes used as the means of transportation in the area.

Bukhakunga Primary School was started in 1952 by the community members. At the time and before Bukhakundga, pupils were walking long distances to other schools more than five kilometers away. The long distance made parents fear their children's safety because they would have to cross dangerous roads and rivers to get to school. Following its establishment, Bukhakunga Primary became sponsored by Roman Catholic Church, which assisted the school to grow and to be registered by the government. Today, there are 1,190 students and 22 teachers and staff.

The school currently has no water source on campus. They have two small plastic and concrete rainwater tanks, but neither has worked since the school returned from the last holiday break. Even when these tanks did work, however, they never came close to meeting all of the school's water needs. This has forced the school to instruct pupils to carry water from home and a nearby unprotected spring every morning as they come to school.

The pupils are also forced to go either home again or to the spring throughout the day when the school runs out of water. The spring is about 600 meters away from the school, and the path is precarious for the pupils because they have to cross the main road. This is very dangerous because the trucks carrying sugarcane, motorbikes, and vehicles use the same road. In either case, each walk to get water takes the students out of school and away from their studies. The students use more energy which they are supposed to use in class to fetch water. They get tired and lack attention during class hours because they are tired of carrying water to school, and as a result, they perform poorly in class.

"As a school Head Teacher, it affects me psychologically because sending the pupils to go home or to the spring to fetch water during class hours is not right. The school needs more water for washing hands and the latrines during this pandemic, but there is no water. Lack of water in school has reduced general hygiene and sanitation to zero because we have no water to wash latrines, classrooms, and no safe water for consumption. Sometimes when I see my pupils càrryimg water, it hurts a lot because there is nothing I can do to help them," explained Head Teacher John Chiliswa Amwoka.

"I personally have no morale to learn because the environment is dirty. Being called during class time to fetch water is the worst experience that I am praying never to happen to my young siblings in the future. This is because it disrupts one's mind and concentration. I pray that one day our school will have clean and safe flowing water so that the next generation will not suffer as were are suffering," said student and young teenager Celine.

Relying on the young learners to supply the school with water brings into question the water quality they fetch because they all handle their water differently. The spring water is also not safe due to its unprotected state (we are working with the community to help protect their spring soon!). Consuming the combined water at school has made some pupils cough a lot, have stomachaches, typhoid, and flu, leading teachers to believe that the water students bring to school is not safe. When school parents take their children to the hospital, the diagnoses consistently show that the students' water could be the cause of their illnesses.

What We Can Do:

New Well

We conducted a hydrogeological survey at this school, and the results indicated the water table beneath it is an ideal candidate for a borehole well. Due to a borehole well's unique ability to tap into a safe, year-round water column, it will be poised to serve all of the water needs for this school's large population, even through the dry months.

The school will help collect the needed construction materials such as sand, rocks, and water for mixing cement. They will also provide housing and meals for the work team, in addition to providing local laborers. We will complement their materials by providing an expert team of artisans and drilling professionals, tools, hardware, and the hand-pump. Once finished, the school’s students and staff will use water from the well and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.

The school and we strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve standards at this school, which will help lead to better student academic performance and unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Handwashing Stations

The student health club will oversee the two new handwashing stations we will provide and ensure they are kept clean and working. The club leaders will fill the handwashing stations with water daily and make sure they are always supplied with a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.

VIP Latrines

Two triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls, and three doors will serve the boys. These new latrines will have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean. And with a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

We will hold a one-day intensive training session with students, teachers, and parents. This training will cover a wide range of topics, including COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, prevention; personal and environmental hygiene; and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a special emphasis on handwashing.

Our team of facilitators will use various methods to train, including participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation and asset-based community development. We will initiate a student health club, which will prepare students to lead other pupils into healthy habits at school and home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and promote good hygiene practices within the school, including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up training before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Project Updates

September, 2021: Bukhakunga Primary School Project Complete!

We are excited to share that Bukhakunga Primary School in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their new borehole well! Students and staff are already using the well’s flowing water, which will provide them with a reliable source of water for all of their daily needs.

We installed new latrines and handwashing stations for students, and we trained the school on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention. These components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

"My life has changed completely because I will no longer be carrying water to school. Instead, I will be accessing clean, safe drinking water in school. Now that we have water in school, I will reschedule my personal timetable. This is because my timetable had included fetching water as one of the tasks every day," said Vivian M.

Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new well on campus.

School headteacher celebrating water!

Headteacher Mr. John Chiliswa shared with excitement, "I believe I will live a healthy life compared to how I used to live. This is because [I] am drinking clean and safe water from a known source."

He continued, "I will ensure that my pupils have enough time to study because now carrying water all the time is a thing of the past. [I] am sure the grades of my pupils will improve too, and all the time and energy they wasted in carrying water will be saved for classwork."

How We Got the Water Flowing

Parents, staff, and students all played a part in this well’s success. After determining the best site for the well through a hydrogeological survey, we obtained approval and a license through the government to begin drilling the new well.

To prepare for the project, the school helped collect fine sand and water for our artisans to use in making cement. When everything was ready and the students went home from class for the weekend (drilling is a very loud process!), our drill team and staff arrived at the school to begin work.

The drilling process can take up to three consecutive days to complete due to this region’s hard bedrock, so when the drill team arrived, they set up a small camp where they could rest and refuel in shifts near the drill rig. The school’s kitchen staff and a few parents helped provide meals for the team, while the school provided a safe place for the artisans’ accommodations and materials. People of all ages came to watch the well’s progress throughout each day.

The community watches the drilling.

Drilling commenced with excitement in the air. As the rig progressed, the team drove down a temporary casing to keep the walls from collapsing. We continued drilling to reach a final depth of 80 meters with a final static water level of 11 meters.

The team replaced the temporary casing with a permanent version and then bailed out the dirty water at the bottom of the well. They installed the pipes and flushed them, tested the well’s yield, and chlorinated the water.

Following chlorination, we constructed a cement well pad to seal off the well from any ground-level contaminants. The pad includes tiles beneath the drawing area to help protect the cement from the erosive force of the water, and a short drainage channel to carry spilled water away from the pump, preventing standing water at the access point. At the end of the drainage channel, we also dug a soak pit that helps absorb the runoff into the ground, further eliminating stagnant water.

When the well pad was dry, we installed a new stainless steel AfriDev handpump and took a water quality test to send to a government lab. The results came back announcing that this water is safe for drinking!

When the students and teachers arrived back at school, their enthusiasm for this much-anticipated project was overwhelming. We officially handed over the new borehole to the school.

Splashing in celebration!

Students and staff celebrated the presence of clean water on campus. The event was an excellent chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we have given and remind them of our continued support as they develop. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, three for the girls and three for the boys. These new latrines have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean, locking doors for safety and privacy, and vents designed to keep air flowing up and out through the roof. With a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.

Handwashing Stations

The two handwashing stations were set up during training and handed over to the student health club. These were placed outside of the girls’ and boys’ latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use. Health club members will teach other students how to wash their hands at the stations properly, make sure the stations are filled with water, and ensure that there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash available.

New Knowledge

We scheduled hygiene and sanitation training with the school’s staff, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for pupils and teachers. When the training day arrived, facilitators Olivia Bomji and Nelly Mtai deployed to the site to lead the event.

Twenty-seven students, teachers, and community-based leaders attended the training, which we held outside under a tree. This enabled us to have fresh air while wearing masks and to keep physical distance per the Ministry of Health guidelines.

We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics. These included personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, and the ten steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights; operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations; and leadership and governance. During the latter, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club.

The club will be significantly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at school. It will be responsible for encouraging good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community.

We involved stretches, dances, and physical activities between each topic to keep the pupils’ energy up and their minds active. By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.

Soap making was the most memorable session during the training. The participants were happy and surprised to learn how to make soap. They all commented on how valuable soap is in maintaining hygiene and sanitation in school and at home.

Dental hygiene session.

"The training was very valuable to me because I acquired more knowledge and skills which made me realize that as a person I was not practicing good hygiene and sanitation as required," said David M.

"The training made me realize that COVID-19 is real and it's high time for me to follow all the Ministry of Health guidelines in order to protect myself and those around me," said student Brian W.

We asked Brian what it was like to be at home for most of the last year due to Kenya's national coronavirus-related school closures and what it has been like coming back to school.

"I missed my teachers and friends a lot," Brian said. "I feel good that now I can see my friends and teachers back in school. Each one of us [is] working hard to ensure that we recover all the time wasted while at home."

When an issue arises concerning the well, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

August, 2021: Bukhakunga Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Bukhakunga Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this school through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

Project Photos

Project Type

Abundant water is often right under our feet! Beneath the Earth’s surface, rivers called aquifers flow through layers of sediment and rock, providing a constant supply of safe water. For borehole wells, we drill deep into the earth, allowing us to access this water which is naturally filtered and protected from sources of contamination at the surface level. First, we decide where to drill by surveying the area and determining where aquifers are likely to sit. To reach the underground water, our drill rigs plunge through meters (sometimes even hundreds of meters!) of soil, silt, rock, and more. Once the drill finds water, we build a well platform and attach a hand pump. If all goes as planned, the community is left with a safe, closed water source providing around five gallons of water per minute! Learn more here!

A Year Later: Students' Time is Now Their Own!

October, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Bukhakunga Primary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Arthur. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Bukhakunga Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Bukhakunga Primary School maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

Last year, students in Bukjakunga Primary School were dragging heavy containers of water with them to school, learning in dirty classrooms, and sent to fetch water at all hours, missing valuable class and recess time.

"Pupils used to fetch water from a spring nearby every day, though some of the pupils could carry water from home, which was not sufficient," said 39-year-old senior teacher Arthur Mmasi. "Being a public school, and with limited resources, we couldn't [purchase] water."

But since we installed a borehole on school grounds last year, things here are hardly even recognizable.

"Water is readily available," Arthur said. "It has helped us so much as teachers, because [before], we could send them for water at any time, interrupting academic lessons. Now, the timetable is followed strictly."

The new time, energy, and health afforded to the staff and students of Bukhakunga have helped them reach new heights.

"Time management is the great achievement I have achieved, and also as a school," Arthur said. "The underground water is very clean and safe, so our health has also improved."


Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Bukhakunga Primary School maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Bukhakunga Primary School – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


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