Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 255 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/13/2023

Project Features

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Community Profile

Madam Pamela Luhyakha, the new principal of Essaba Secondary School, narrates that each day comes with the burden to alleviate the water shortage for her students. She admits that she greatly regrets having to send her learners to go find water from the surrounding communities. Once the students have finally returned with water, they must continue with their morning routine, when some pick up outside while others clean the classrooms. By the time they settle down for class, they can't help but feel they've missed out on perhaps an entire lesson's worth of learning.

The people living in the school neighborhood rely on farming to meet their daily needs. A few of them are traders, selling items at nearby Luanda Market. History has it that the first regional leaders after post-colonial Kenya came from this area. Essaba Village, therefore, is known for prominent personalities who greatly contributed to the commencement of both the Essaba Primary and Secondary schools back in the 1970s.

We visited the Essaba Secondary School, which currently has a student enrollment of 229 and employs 16 teaching staff.


The school has a 10,000-liter plastic water tank that is set aside for academic purposes, meaning that the water is clean enough to be used in the science lab. Thus, students have to find extra water for drinking and cleaning.

Students report that when they're sent out to find water, they often walk to nearby Mulwanda Spring and wait their turn in line behind community members. There's no storage for drinking water, so it's kept in the same 20-liter containers brought to and from the spring.

Parents have recently been pulling their students from Essaba Secondary, noting the fact that valuable class time is spent searching for drinking water.


The school doesn't have many other facilities, either. There are just four usable pit latrines made of brick, but the floor above the pit is starting to fall apart at the edges. The floor of a nearby latrine facility has already caved in - thankfully with no students inside at the time. There are cracks in the walls and holes in the doors, while some of those doors are even hanging off their hinges.

There's one handwashing station, but students would have to carry extra water to keep it full throughout the day.

"Our school portrays a poor health situation due to water shortages coupled with inadequate sanitation facilities that are also unsafe for our learners," Deputy Principal Zechariah Ominde said.

"It has been so hard for the school because no one would want to survive in a place where cleaning of latrines and classrooms is rationed, and the availability of water for food preparation or drinking is rare. Our suggestion box is full of complaints from students who feel neglected."

Here's what we're going to do about it:


Training will be held for two days. The facilitator will use PHAST (participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation), ABCD (asset-based community development), CTC (child to child), lectures, group discussions, and handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good practices within the school. The CTC method will prepare students to lead other students into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school.

Handwashing Stations

This CTC club will oversee the new facilities, such as handwashing stations, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The two handwashing stations will be delivered to the school, and the club will fill them with water on a daily basis and make sure there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.

VIP Latrines

Two triple-door latrines will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. And with a new source of water on school grounds, students and staff should have enough to keep these new latrines clean.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

A 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will also help gather the needed materials such as sand, rocks, and water from the spring for mixing cement. Once finished, this tank can begin catching rainfall that will be used by the school’s students and staff.

We and the school strongly believe that with this assistance, standards will significantly improve. These higher standards will translate to better academic performance!

This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (edited for clarity) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

September, 2019: Giving Update: Essaba Secondary School

A year ago, your generous donation helped Essaba Secondary School in Kenya access clean water.

There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water at Essaba Secondary School. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this school maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

August, 2018: Essaba Secondary School Project Complete

A new rainwater catchment system was built! Essaba Secondary School in Kenya now has a new source of safe, clean water thanks to your support. Handwashing stations were installed so that students can clean up after using their new latrines, and students and staff have received training in sanitation and hygiene.

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was planned with the unwavering support of Madam Pamela Luhyakha, the school principal. The participants all met us in the school hall, where we were pleasantly surprised to find more parents, teachers, and students than we asked for. All of the participants were deeply involved in the training, asking questions and working together to find solutions. Parents in the meeting never shied away from asking the hard questions, urging students to take advantage of the workshop to hear more about the sexual pressures, smoking and other things they were encountering.

We covered several topics, including bathing, oral hygiene, and handwashing with soap as a barrier from germs; operation and maintenance of the new facilities, with each person understanding their role for long-lasting clean water and good health.

Teaching about the right way to use and care for the new rainwater catchment tank.

Participants were surprised to learn that the quality of water used for handwashing or cooking food should be on par with drinking standards. They told us they knew about boiling, biofilters and chemical treatments such as chlorination, but not everyone was using them. They complained about the cost involved with each of the above. Thus a new technology, solar disinfection of water, was introduced and demonstrated. It was very well received!

"We have lived in ignorance and with misinformation on many things. For instance, family planning has been so misunderstood - to just mean stopping a lady from giving birth - but today we now know that it means much more than that," student Charles Tiema said.

"Messages on the definition of drinking water and learning about oral health will help our community see what they need to do to improve health. We have been empowered, challenged to apply and to empower others so that no one is left behind. This we shall do!"

Handwashing Stations

Pupils can now enjoy washing their hands with soap thanks to the two handwashing stations that were delivered to their school. These new handwashing opportunities will help reduce cases of hygiene-related illness. The training on hygiene has motivated these students to share what they’ve learned both with their peers at school and families at home.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines. All of these new latrines have cement floors that are easy to use and clean. And with a rainwater catchment tank, there should be enough water to keep them clean all the time.

Thanks to a close relationship between us, the school board, and local government, we were able to install extra latrine doors! A member of Emuhaya Parliament, Mwalimu Omboko Milemba, also donated money to hire extra hands to help our artisans.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

Construction for this 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank was successful!

Parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. All the while, women cooked meals for the artisans, and the school provided accommodations for the artisans during their work. Local men and women helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.

The process officially began with our staff and school administration looking around the school compound to try and determine the best location for a new rainwater catchment tank. This needed to be the best site with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater.

Then, we cleared the site: excavating the soil within the required measurements to make level ground for the tank foundation. The foundation was cast by laying stones on a level ground and then reinforcing it using steel, concrete and waterproof cement.

Both the drawing pipe as well as the washout pipe were affixed as the foundation was lain. The wall was built with ferro-cement techniques through six layers. The inner wall was plastered while rough casting was done on the outer part.

Dome construction could begin after the superstructure had been given enough time to settle. The manhole cover was fitted, inlet pipes were connected to the roof gutters, inlet screens, ventilation pipes (breathers) and overflow pipes were all done to standard.

Finally, the catchment area was dug, plastered, and a staircase installed.

Once finished, the tank was given three weeks to undergo complete curing before it was cleaned and handed over to St. Peter’s Essaba Secondary School, though we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program.

Principal Luhyakha stands proudly by the new rainwater catchment tank at her school.

"Today we have seen a new dawn!" student Joyce Kube exclaimed.

"We shall no longer waste our academic time to go outside the school in search of water. The water will be our best way to promote sanitation and hygiene as well as boost the health of students because water is life! I believe that other students who at first disliked Essaba because her students were seen going for water outside the school, such ones will have a change of heart and come to join our school," she continued.

"Furthermore, our food will be prepared on time, using clean water; our classrooms' hygiene will improve because we shall mop them daily. Finally, my fellow girls will also use the same water during our menstrual times and keep clean and confident to stay in school."

July, 2018: Essaba Secondary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at Essaba Secondary 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 your 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

For a rainwater collection system, we build gutters around a building with good, clean roofing to channel rain where we want it. From there, the water falls through a filtered inlet pipe into a high-capacity storage tank, the size of which is based on population and average rainfall patterns. In the tank, water can be stored for months, where it is easily treated and accessed. Learn more here!

Giving Update: Essaba Secondary School

September, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Essaba Secondary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Alice Andeyo. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Essaba Secondary 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!

As you enter the school compound at Essaba Secondary, the place looks very clean and is very quiet. The compound is always green with flowers and trees growing throughout it.

Previously, the compound would be filled with plastic containers all over the grounds as these were used by the students to carry water from their homes to keep the school programs going. Their water tried to keep the school kitchen running, science laboratory functional, and of course was meant for drinking by students, teachers and support staff. This water from home never satisfied the school's water needs however, and its quality was always questionable.

Today, with the availability of the 50,000-liter rain tank that was constructed at Essaba Secondary School, there are no more containers around the compound especially during the rainy season as water is always available from the tank. Students are now very happy and relaxed as they enjoy safe water from the tank, reduced congestion in line at the latrines, and also routine handwashing to prevent disease-causing germs. Provision of the 6 doors of VIP latrines and 2 handwashing stations, as well as the hygiene training that was conducted at the school, have greatly helped to change the status of the school in terms of sanitation and hygiene.

Student Alice Andeyo with Chief Chef Patrick Otakwa in front of the rain tank

"Since last year, our school has had a regular supply of water from this very big water tank especially during rainy season whereby students no longer carry water," said the school's Chief Chef Patrick Otakwa.

"This water source being near the kitchen area has really helped me as the chief chef to access water within a very short time thus making food preparation very quick. [The] availability of water in the school is now guaranteed [especially] during rainy season where the water is abundant and in high supply for both drinking and cooking."

Alice at the tap with Field Officer Wilson Kipchoge and another student at the rain tank

Alice Andeyo, a 17-year-old student at Essaba Secondary, shared how the rain tank has personally affected her education.

Alice tries to take a drink while laughing

"Previously before the project was done in our school, I used to waste a lot of study time either going to the nearby water sources outside the school compound or waiting for other community members to fetch the water first before being allowed to fetch it and attend class. Nowadays I have time to do my classwork with a lot of confidence knowing that there is a reliable water source within the school."

A student with Field Officer Wilson Kipchoge in front of the rain tank

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 Essaba Secondary 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 Essaba Secondary 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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