Project Status

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 335 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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Community Profile

After rain, Ematsayi Primary School's rain tanks will hold water for one or two weeks. Once the water runs out, though, the school administration asks all 324 students to bring a heavy jerrycan full of water with them to school, and even then, there is never enough water.

In order to avoid this difficult circumstance, the administration is always trying to broker deals with the owners of nearby water sources to allow Ematsayi's students to fetch water there. But time and time again, students are turned away and left wandering outside the school begging for water or collecting it from streams.

"Some time back, we tried to fetch water from a neighboring school, but we couldn't do it for long as it caused confusion in [the] learning sessions of our fellow pupils and made the headteacher stop us," said student Valentine O (shown below).

"We also waste a lot of time getting water from neighbors due to long queues. One time, we wasted two hours trying to find water to wash our classrooms from a passing stream. That day, we were not able to have our evening lessons, and not all classes were able to be cleaned."

"As the headteacher, [I] am not happy seeing my pupils carry water in containers to school, but what can I do?" said teacher Phillip Murungi (pictured below). "Pupils [go] to one of the neighborhoods to find water during cleaning days. Some days, they are denied water for fear of depletion. I feel this has interfered with high-performance expectations, though my children do well in academics."

"The hand-dug wells in the neighborhood pose [a] risk of accidents as they have wide openings," Mr. Murungi continued. "The pupils supervise themselves during the drawing of water, which brings doubt about their safety and time wastage."

Getting water wherever they can find it has stymied the school's ability to track which water sources cause chronic cases of diarrhea among the students, even though they keep a record of who is sent home from school and when.

The administration purchased water filtration containers to help with this, but filtered water only helps when they can get enough of it to spare for students to drink. If there isn't enough water to clean classrooms and latrines or fill handwashing stations, students will continue to get sick, hurting their health and the futures they are working so hard to secure.

A well of their own on the school campus should bring some relief.

Note: This water point can only serve 300 people per day. We are working with the community to identify other water solutions that will ensure everyone has access to safe and reliable drinking water.

Water at schools is unique, which is why we need unique solutions.

The Proposed Solution, Determined Together...

At The Water Project, everyone has a part in conversations and solutions. We operate in transparency, believing it benefits everyone. We expect reliability from one another as well as our water solutions. Everyone involved makes this possible through hard work and dedication.

In a joint discovery process, community members determine their most advantageous water solution alongside our technical experts. Read more specifics about this solution on the What We're Building tab of this project page. Then, community members lend their support by collecting needed construction materials (sometimes for months ahead of time!), providing labor alongside our artisans, sheltering and feeding the builders, and supplying additional resources.

Water Access for Everyone

This water project is one piece in a large puzzle. In Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, we're working toward complete coverage of reliable, maintained water sources that guarantee public access now and in the future within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. One day, we hope to report that this has been achieved!

Training on Health, Hygiene & More

With the community's input, we've identified topics where training will increase positive health outcomes at personal, household, and community levels. We'll coordinate with them to find the best training date. Some examples of what we train communities on are:

  • Improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits
  • Safe water handling, storage & treatment
  • Disease prevention and proper handwashing
  • Income-generation
  • Community leadership, governance, & election of a water committee
  • Operation and maintenance of the water point

Handwashing Stations

Alongside each water source, we also provide two new gravity-fed handwashing stations that will allow everyone at the school to wash their hands without running water. Handwashing is so important to help prevent future water-related illnesses in the school community.

The student health club will maintain the stations, fill them with water, and supply them with soap (which we will teach the school community how to make during the training!).

VIP Latrines

In addition, we will construct two triple-door Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrine blocks designed to prevent fecal disease transmission. Each latrine will have a cement floor, which is easy to use and clean regularly. Three doors will serve the girls, and three doors will serve the boys.

Project Updates

May, 2024: Ematsayi Primary School Well Complete!

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

"I have carried the yellow container for [a] long [time]. It is time to put it in my past and think of it as a moment to be missed. My morning luggage will be lighter since I will only carry my bag of books. I hope to spend more time in class. There is plenty of water to clean [the] latrines and classrooms; that means my environment around me will be safer," said 12-year-old Valentine.

Valentine at the new well.

"My learning will be very smooth, considering we have been moving around homesteads looking for water in the wells. Now that water is available, we have a duty of ensuring that we do well in classes," continued Valentine.

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

"Initially, we had [the] challenge of water quality safety. We have always asked pupils to carry water from home for school activities. Pupils [brought] water from different sources carrying different impurities. The presence of [this] water source in the school will solve this challenge and help our pupils with ease of coming to school. This waterpoint will help us address the issue of accessibility. This will go [a] long way in addressing the challenge of time wasting. Availability of water in [the] school [will] help in solving the problem [of] poor sanitation around [the] school, and promote high hygiene, and sanitation practices," said teacher Philip Murungu.

Mr. Murungu at the new waterpoint.

"The only way we believe our children will prosper is through education, talent development, and exposure. Time for these practices has been affected [by the] lack of water on campus. It is the expectation that [now] every child will perform well in academics due [to] much time spent in class as [a] result of [the] presence of [the] water source in school," Philip continued.

How We Got the Water Flowing

Parents, staff, and students all contributed to 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.

Groundbreaking ceremony.

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 80 meters with a final static water level of 10 meters.

Drilling underway.

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.

Building the well pad.

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!

We officially handed over the new borehole to the school’s students and teachers.

Happy for clean water!

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

Boys in front of their completed new latrine.

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

New handwashing station.

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, Amos and Mitchelle deployed to the site to lead the event. 22 students and teachers attended the training.

We focused on personal, menstrual, oral, and environmental hygiene; proper water handling; soap-making and the ten steps of handwashing; the importance of primary health care, the prevention of teen pregnancy and COVID-19; child rights; the operation and maintenance of the pump, well, 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 participants especially enjoyed the soapmaking session and learning how to maintain the well.

The soapmaking session.

The student health club 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.

Learning how to build a handwashing station.

"I enjoyed the topic of hygiene and sanitation behaviors. The facilitator used funny illustrations to make us understand well. I liked how he explained [how] to use what we have to make our environment safer. We can use water containers to make [a] tippy tap for hand washing," said Valentine, quoted earlier.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. 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 Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone, we’re working toward complete coverage. That means 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!

March, 2024: Ematsayi Primary School Well Underway!

The lack of adequate water at Ematsayi Primary School costs the students and staff time, energy, and health every single day. Clean water scarcity contributes to community instability and diminishes individuals’ personal progress.

But thanks to your recent generosity, things will soon improve here. Groundbreaking has happened (seen below), and we are now working to install a reliable water point and improve hygiene standards. We look forward to sharing inspiring news in the near future!

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!