Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 469 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/08/2024

Project Features

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The students at Gisambai Primary School in the Vihiga region of Western Kenya struggle daily to find clean water that will not make them and their teachers sick.

Every day they get up early to search for water because they share the responsibility of collecting it for 451 students and 18 teachers at their school.

Most often, water comes from a nearby unprotected spring, meaning they unknowingly collect contaminated water. When fellow students and teachers drink it, they suffer from waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea and typhoid.

Often, what was collected in the morning is not enough for the whole day, so students are sent out during valuable class time for more, leading to a lack of academic progress.

Carrying the water to school can be difficult and exhausting. 11-year-old student Lucky I. shared his experience: "As students, we always carry water to school for use. It is difficult to carry water with books at the same time. We also waste time going to look for water, interfering with [the] preparation of lesson time."

The school currently has two small (11,000L total) rain tanks that work but do not provide nearly enough water for the large school population. They need more clean water to meet the daily needs of the school, and that is where we come in.

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, water from the well will then be used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.

Handwashing Stations

The student health club will oversee the two new handwashing stations we will provide, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. 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

We will construct two triple-door latrine blocks using local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls and three doors will serve the boys. All of these new latrines will have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and to clean. And with a borehole 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, and prevention; personal and environmental hygiene; and the operation and maintenance of the borehole, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a special emphasis on handwashing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of 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 at home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions, and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good hygiene practices within the school including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

We and the school 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 will help unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Project Updates

March, 2023: Gisambai Primary School Well Complete!

We are excited to share that Gisambai Primary School in Kenya now has access to a new, safe, clean water source 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 also installed new latrines and handwashing stations and trained students and staff on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. Together, these components will unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

"We now enjoy clean, safe sufficient water directly in the school compound thanks to The Water Project. Our health standards will never be compromised at all. We will be able to enjoy clean, safe water for drinking," said 12-year-old Lucky I.

Lucky continued: "For a long time now, we have had a big challenge in accessing clean, safe water for use in school. We were forced to collect water out of the school compound in a nearby community spring. Sharing the spring with the community was a big challenge, especially during the drought season when it faced congestion. We wasted time and sometimes got injured in the process of collecting water."

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

"With sufficient, clean, reliable water, our health standards will never be compromised in any way. Water being clean, we will be able to have clean water for drinking at any given time of need. Cases of diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, and other water-related diseases will drastically be reduced," said deputy teacher Hassan Mirozo.

Mr. Mirozo pumping water.

"Water being collected directly in the school compound, there will be a reduced amount of time needed to gather water. Thus more time will be better used to teach students in class," he concluded.

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 from the government to begin drilling.

To prepare, the school collected fine sand and water for cement-making. When everything was ready, and the students went home from class for the weekend (drilling is very loud!), our drill team and staff arrived at the school to begin work.


Drilling commenced with excitement in the air. The team drove down a temporary casing to keep the walls from collapsing as the rig progressed. We continued drilling to reach a final depth of 82 meters with a final static water level of 28 meters.

The drilling process can take up to three consecutive days to complete due to this region’s hard bedrock, so the drill team set up a camp where they could rest and refuel. The school’s kitchen staff and parents helped provide meals for the team, while the school provided a safe place for the artisans’ accommodations and materials.

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

After water treatment, we constructed a cement well pad to seal off the well from any ground-level contaminants. Tiles are installed beneath the spout to protect the cement from the erosive force of the water.

We also included a short drainage channel to carry spilled water away from the pump and prevent standing water. A soak pit absorbs runoff at the end of the drainage channel, further eliminating any stagnant water.

When the well pad was dry, we installed a new stainless steel AfriDev handpump and sampled the water for a quality test. The results showed this water was 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.

"A representation of board members, teachers, and students assembled at the site for the handing over ceremony. A vote of thanks was made by Mr. Aggrey, the board chair, who then welcomed the headteacher to wrap it up with a thanksgiving prayer," said field officer Samuel Samidi.

Students and staff celebrated the presence of clean water on campus. The event was an excellent chance 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. These new latrines have cement floors designed to be easy to use and clean, locking doors for safety and privacy, and vents to keep air flowing up and out through the roof. With a well right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.

Handwashing Stations

We set up two handwashing stations outside the latrines and handed them over to the newly formed student health club. Health club members will teach other students how to wash their hands at the stations properly, fill the stations with water, and ensure that there is always a cleaning agent 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 Rose and Samuel deployed to the site to lead the event. 22 students and teachers attended the training, which we held under some shade trees in the school compound.

Our training covered several topics, including personal hygiene, oral hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing, environmental hygiene, child rights, leadership, and operation and maintenance of the well and pump, latrines, and handwashing stations.

Students elected their peers to lead their student health club during the leadership session. Members will encourage good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community. By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.

The dental hygiene session was interesting and informative. The facilitator educated participants on proper dental care and encouraged them to brush their teeth after every meal to keep them strong and healthy. During the training, it was discovered that most participants used years-old toothbrushes. The facilitator encouraged everyone to replace them every three months for the best results.

Students also especially enjoyed the soap-making session. They were curious and attentive as they learned the proper steps and reagents used to make soap. The process was lively as each participant stirred the liquid mixture, and they were all delighted by the final results.

"Sanitation and hygiene training is key to survival and health. Today's training has laid much emphasis on importance of observing good hygiene and sanitation standards. We will pass this information to the community so that we be able to raise a healthy community," said 14-year-old student and the student water committee secretary Lavin K.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members themselves. 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 their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In our target areas, we’re working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

February, 2023: Gisambai Primary School Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Gisambai 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!

Water Allows Students to Focus on Learning!

May, 2024

A year ago, your generous donation helped Gisambai Primary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for the students and staff. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Gisambai 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, your gift unlocked the potential for a brighter future for the students and staff of Gisambai Primary School. Since then, they have had clean, reliable water. Your contribution has made a significant impact. Thank you for making a difference!

Before the Well Installation
"The school faced [a] water shortage. We relied on water students brought from an open source outside the school compound. The water was mostly colored as the containers used were unclean and without lids. We had no alternative, so we used the water regardless," shared teacher Hillary Savara.

"Students had to be sent to get water outside the school grounds. Sometimes, we send them during class time. They had to cross busy roads with motorbikes speeding [by] to get to the spring. At the spring, they would line [up] with community members who also were in search of water. By the time this water was collected at a central place, one could tell the water was unfit for consumption," he continued.

A student collects water from the community spring before the well was installed.

Drinking water has severe consequences. Students (and teachers alike) suffer from waterborne diseases that create health problems, keep them out of class, affect their daily lives, and decrease their time for learning.

Since the Well Installation
Your generous gift last year was much more than a simple donation; it was a powerful statement about your commitment to this school community and the student's future. By supporting this well, you made clean water an everyday reality for them, fostering hope for a brighter future.

Reliable and clean water lays the groundwork for improved health, education, and economic possibilities, allowing people like Mr. Savara and the school's pupils to thrive. We frequently hear from those we interview that "water is life!"

Students collect clean drinking water.

"Collecting water now is very easy. To control students, we have set out stipulated times for different classes to make it easy to collect water. This has helped reduce congestion at [the] water point," said Mr. Savara.

He continued, "Students no longer have to carry water jerricans to school. We worry less about what could happen to students when they go outside the school compound, indiscipline cases have dropped, and we are having an easy time managing students. They now only focus on studies. It is easier for them to come to school and have nothing to worry them other than studying."

Students fill handwashing stations.

"My health has improved. The coughs and skin rashes caused by the contaminated water have reduced. I get to attend all my classes and give my best to my students," he said.

The Future is Looking Bright!
You made a difference for Gisambai Primary School a year ago. This is just the first chapter of their story, as access to clean water continues to improve their lives!

Mr. Savara was delighted to share, "Students from the health club have worked on a kitchen garden at the school; they grow kale, which is used to prepare meals at the school. The water has been of great significance to making this possible."

The student health club watering their garden.

At The Water Project, we value sustainability and want to ensure that people continue to thrive. We commit to monitoring this well to ensure the water is always flowing and safe to consume. We inspect the system hardware, track water availability, conduct sanitary inspections, and collect water quality samples to identify risks. We work with our team on the ground to resolve them.

He also shared, "The Water Project offers services of repair and maintenance for this borehole. As a school, we subscribe [to] an annual fee, and anytime there is [a] breakdown, we call The Water Project offices, and they respond in less than 48 hours."

You gave the staff and students at the school a crucial tool for achieving their dreams: access to clean water. Together, we can excitedly expect that with this precious resource, their enthusiasm and courage will help them fulfill more dreams.

Listen to the video below to hear more about how your gift of clean water access has made a significant difference.

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 Gisambai 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 Gisambai 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.