Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/08/2024

Project Features

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Isulu Primary School is located in Bushimuli Village of Kakamega County, Kenya. It started in 1933 with just temporary structures made of iron sheets. Now, the school has grown to host 620 pupils! There is also an early education section that has 88 pupils. The school employs 12 teachers.

(Editor's Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. To learn more about how we determine the number of people served, click here.)

The headteacher told us that it's been a challenge for them to connect with parents, saying that the parents don't value education. Most of the parents are illiterate and have not attended any grades at all. This has actually made it difficult to appoint parents to be members of the board of management since it is required by law that for one to be a member, he or she must have at least passed the form four. Consequently, the school has appointed members who are not parents at the school. It doesn't even bother most parents when a pupil misses school.

A normal day starts very early for these students, as they're required to do a lot in preparation for school. To get through the school gate, students are required to carry not only their homework and books but a container of water too. They use this water to clean their classrooms and latrines, and the rest for cooking school lunch and drinking.


There's a plastic tank that can collect rainwater, but it doesn't last long without being recharged. To supplement this low capacity, students are asked to carry water from home. There's no way for the administration to verify the safety of this water, but the illnesses that emerge as students drink this water points towards poor quality. There are several absences every week, with students reporting waterborne illnesses like typhoid.


There are several pit latrines for students, including ecosan latrines (the pits are actually bins that should be emptied when full). Around a dozen of these are functional, but are overused by too many students. The lines during break times are so long that students can't make it to their next class, let alone wait that long to find relief. There is only one spot to wash hands, so only a portion of these students have the opportunity to wash up before returning to class.

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!

Project Updates

October, 2019: Giving Update: Isulu Primary School

A year ago, your generous donation helped Isulu Primary School in Kenya access clean water.

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

February, 2019: Isulu Primary School Project Complete

There is a new rainwater catchment system at Isulu Primary School! Students have a 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.

"As a school, we are grateful for the water tank, toilets, and handwashing facilities. Previously the school did not have a reliable water supply source," Mr. Dominic Muroni said.

After construction of the facilities, it is expected that the health and sanitation standards at the school shall tremendously increase. After the completion of the project, the school invited the area chief so he could see the word that was done. The chief was very happy about the contribution to improve the health and sanitation standards of his people. He promised to look for unprotected springs in the surrounding area and any other school in dire need of sanitation facilities so that we can continue to help where needed.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

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

The Process:

Our staff and the school administration started by looking around the school to determine the best location for their 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 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.

The catchment area was dug, plastered, and a staircase installed so students can easily get water from the tap.

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.

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

New Knowledge

We started planning for hygiene and sanitation training two weeks ahead of time. The deputy headteacher was in charge of the overall organization and selection of the pupil representatives. We asked for 15 students to attend, who would then form a student-led hygiene and sanitation health club responsible for educating the rest of the student body.

We ended up having 23 participants total, all who were waiting in an empty classroom that the school set aside. Most of them were students, but the sanitation teacher, deputy headteacher, and board chairman were there also.

The participants were actively involved and interested in each topic. They asked many questions to seek clarification on water, hygiene, and sanitation. They were happy to be a part of a training wherein the topics could be easily applied to their everyday lives.

We covered topics including:

- primary healthcare
- taking care of the new facilities
- common illnesses and their prevention

- waterborne illnesses
- CTC club activities
- handwashing

- dental hygiene

Leadership and governance were also taught to equip the student health club with good leadership skills as they teach the rest of the student body what they learned. The training ended with the election of the club cabinet leadership.

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 with their peers at school and families at home.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit 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.

"The facilities will help improve the hygiene and sanitation standards at our school. Initially, the school had few latrines and this led to congestion when used," explained Deputy Headteacher Mmbolo Johnpaul.

January, 2019: Isulu Primary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at Isulu Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to build 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. With water on school grounds, students will no longer have to carry heavy containers of water to school each day. 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: Isulu Primary School

October, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Isulu 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!

It has now been a year since the installation of the WaSH projects at Isulu Primary School. From a recent field visit, we heard the following story from our Field Officer Mary Afandi:

"When I [first] came to Isulu Primary School they had no water and enough latrines. Most of the latrines were in poor condition, thus posing as [a] hazard to the school community. The toilets were not enough for the school community. The pupils used to carry water from their respective homes to school. The water was used for cooking and cleaning."

"After the completion of the WaSH projects, the school now has access to clean, safe, and quality water. This saves the children valuable time and enables them to concentrate on the studies. There is no queuing at the toilet during break and lunchtime. The handwashing facilities make it possible for the students to wash their hands after visiting the toilets."

During this same visit, our team had the chance to catch up with Deputy Head Teacher Mrs. Mary Asatsa, who reflected on the changes she has seen in her school over the last year thanks to the WaSH projects.

Deputy Head Teacher Mrs. Mary Asatsa with Field Officer Mary Afandi and student Noreen Shiviriti at the rain tank

"Initially the pupils used [to] bring water from their various homes. This was very risky to human health," said Mrs. Asatsa.

"The pupils and staff are very happy because they are now accessing safe and clean water. There is a remarkable improvement in academic performance at the school. The toilets have reduced congestion when the pupils want to use them."

Mrs. Asatsa points to running water from the rain tank

One such pupil is 14-year-old Noreen Shiviriti, who was all smiles the day we spoke with her in front of the rain tank.

"After construction of the water tank, we do not carry water from home. We are now accessing safe and clean water. The WaSH facilities have resulted in creating more time for studies, leading to improved performance. Thank you so much...for providing these facilities to the school," Noreen said.

Noreen reaches for the overflow pipe 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 Isulu 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 Isulu 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.


Project Sponsor - Duane and Katrina Weaver/JM Smith Foundation