Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 824 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/04/2024

Project Features

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Ematende Primary School began in 2009 when there was no school in the area. Since then, the school population has boomed to 805 students and 19 staff.

The students and staff at the school all rely on a hand-dug well for the water they need for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, but it is only truly useful to them during the rainy season when the water table is high, because the well is too shallow to reach the region's receding water table. For the rest of the year, everyone wastes a lot of time attempting to collect water from the well, which has little water to offer.

Students arrive early to school and get in line at the well, waiting for a turn to collect water. The process is slow and arduous. The long lines mean they miss valuable class time, and their academic performance suffers as a result.

When the well is without water, and the tiny rain tank on the school campus has no water, especially during the driest time of the year (January through February), students must fetch water from a nearby stream. To do so, they must walk a busy dirt road, dodging speeding motorcycles and large trucks, risking serious injuries.

Once they reach the stream, they stand in the brown and murky water to dip their collection containers below the surface to fill. After collecting water, they make the dangerous trek back to the school once again, this time carrying a heavy container full of water.

The stream provides water, but it is unsafe and contaminated, leading to water-related illnesses for those drinking it, like persistent diarrhea and stomachaches. These illnesses have lasting effects, causing students to miss school and fall behind academically. Families struggle financially from paying for reoccurring hospital visits.

Teacher Stephen Arunga (standing near the hand-dug well), 45, shared, "Most of the pupils spend most of their time hospitalized. This also delays their timely completion of the syllabus, thus adding to their poor performance in academics."

"Clean water unlocks great potential in our lives as pupils. When one is absent, the teacher does not have time to recap what was taught, and this is a very big loss. Those that cannot afford to go to the hospital mostly get out of school when sick, go home, stay there for [a] few days, then they come back. This cannot make us perform well in our academics," said Margaret A.(in the photo above pouring water into collection containers), 15.

Like Margaret commented, clean water can unlock significant potential in students' lives. This new well will enable students to focus on learning and dream about the future rather than suffering constant illnesses limiting their potential.

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

There is currently nowhere for students to wash their hands after using the latrines or before eating lunch, let alone the water to do so.

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

October, 2022: Ematende Primary School Borehole Well Complete!

We are excited to share that Ematende 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.

"My life will be truly impacted positively. No more congestion as we waste time at the waterpoint," said 12-year-old Olivia P.

Olivia enjoying clean water!

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

"As a teacher in this school, my life will be positively impacted by this safe water. I will be able to have more time with my pupils and will be able to finish the syllabus on time," said 46-year-old teacher Stephen Arunga.

Mr. Arunga pumps water at the new well.

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, our drill team and staff arrived at the school to begin work.

Prayers before groundbreaking.

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 60 meters with a final static water level of eight 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.

Students, staff, and parents 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. The field officer reminded the teachers and the pupils how to maintain and manage the facilities for long-term sustainability.

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 Jemmimah and Victor deployed to the site to lead the event. 23 students and teachers attended the training, which we held under some trees on the school grounds.

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.

Practicing dental hygiene.

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 most memorable topic was personal hygiene. The participants were adamant that they are unable to have a bath daily, saying the economy is so bad and there is no money to buy soap. Pupils confessed that they generally only bathe twice a week. The facilitator encouraged the pupils to come up with small income-generating projects like growing a small garden so that they can plant vegetables to sell that would enable them to buy soap.

Soap-making session.

"I loved the training because I was empowered, and my life skills improved. The best thing I will live to remember is soap-making. This opened my mind that after school, you can keep yourself busy with important activities like making soap so as to make money instead of idling and indulging in immoral activities which lead to early pregnancy," said 13-year-old female student Ematende.


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!

August, 2022: Ematende Primary School Well Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Ematende 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: Improved Education and Health!

November, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ematende 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!

Princess M, 13, recalled life in the Ematende Primary School before her community's well was installed last year.

"Going to the stream for water would waste at least one hour, which would otherwise have been spent in class. Many of us had difficulty concentrating in class because going to the stream was quite tiresome. The path leading to the nearby stream is steep, and there were risks of getting injured. We were also required to be accompanied by the teacher on duty, thus consuming time that would have been spent planning for lessons or teaching. The stream water was not safe for drinking, and there were regular outbreaks of waterborne diseases," Princess shared.

Collecting water is much less burdensome for Princess and the other community students at Ematende Primary School now.

"I can now enjoy clean and safe drinking water. I no longer have to worry about waterborne diseases, and absenteeism is now a thing of the past. I can also concentrate on my studies since I don't have to waste a lot of time going to the stream. I'm able to maintain good hygiene standards through washing my hands regularly with soap and clean water. I'm not worried about getting injured while fetching or carrying water," she added.

Having ready access to water from the well has made a difference for Princess, allowing her to concentrate on her education. She no longer fears collecting water, and good hygiene will improve her self-esteem.

"My academic performance has greatly improved. I can enjoy good health, hygiene, and sanitation," Princess concluded.

Princess washing her hands.

Right now, there are others in neighboring communities that desperately need safe water access. Your support will immediately go to work to provide a clean water project - and we can't wait to introduce you to the next person you'll help.

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 Ematende 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 Ematende 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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