Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/01/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

A day at St. Mary's involves students waking up early at 4:30am to prepare for the day. All of the girls live on school grounds so they can prepare for the day quickly and get straight to studying. At 5:30am, they're required to sit in study hall until breakfast is served at 7am.

There's more time to study and finish up assignments until normal classes at 8am. These lessons continue throughout the day until sports and games hour at 4pm. The boarders are required to get water and clean up for dinner at 5:30pm, after which they go for evening prayers and then study until bed.

With this heavy academic schedule, it should be no surprise that St. Mary's Girl's High is rated one of the top boarding schools in the region. This notoriety has in turn attracted more girls, which is straining the school's facilities. They used to have a dining hall and sick room, but now they're both dormitories.


There are currently 1,035 girls attending classes here. They are taught by 41 teachers and helped by 26 supplementary staff. (Since a typical water source can only support a generous number of 500 people, we cap our "number served" there.)

The school catches rainwater, has a well, and paid a fee to be connected to piped water in order to do their best to meet the drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs of these girls.

Unfortunately, the pipeline is only on a couple of days a week and that water is metered. Therefore, the school pursued the installation of other clean water sources. Since they've been able to get a well and rainwater tanks, the school has already grown by over 200 students.

You'll see girls at one of these sources at the strangest times of the day, for they'd like to avoid the extraordinarily long lines that form during the morning and evening. This forced administration to figure out how to upgrade facilities or add more capacity.

They tried to upgrade their well to a submersible system, but they were told the yield is too low for any pump other than the manual pump they have. Nonetheless, this well and the concrete rainwater tank are the school's most reliable clean water sources - they just need more.


Some of the pit latrines are in good working condition while others are not. Most of the unused latrines are missing their doors, so girls won't dare to use them. There is just one handwashing station, mostly for the staff to use. Girls are expected to use the water they fetched in their own containers.

Counting the usable pit latrines here, there are 51 girls per latrine. They're doing their best at keeping their campus and its facilities clean, but it's difficult when there's such overuse.

"The school has enjoyed proper sanitation and health standards over the years, for close to the ten years that I have been working here. With this kind of environment, we have had the opportunity to produce some of the best performing students in the region and the whole country," Principal Rosemary Kwendo said.

"With that kind of performance, there has been goodwill between us and the surrounding school communities and also the government, thus the continuous increase in population. This increase has therefore led to a strain on all the social amenities we have, and now we face the challenge of standard health."

In fact, while St. Mary's Girl's High has been praised by many, the water shortage problem and poor sanitation conditions have recently been the subject of negative news stories about the school.

Here’s what we plan 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 these girls to lead their peers into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school. This CTC club will oversee the new facilities, such as hand-washing stations, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition.

Handwashing Stations

The two handwashing stations will be delivered to the school, and the CTC 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

Six doors of new pit latrines will be installed for the girls, complete with good ventilation. 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

This rainwater catchment tank will add an additional 50,000 liters of clean water on school grounds to help support the growing student population. All of these new facilities are helping the school avoid an impending closure notice, ensuring that hundreds of girls still have the opportunity to pursue a bright future.

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 readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

July, 2019: Giving Update: St. Mary's Girl's High School

A year ago, your generous donation enabled us to build a rain tank for St. Mary's Girl's High School in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more…

May, 2018: St. Mary's Mumias Girls Secondary School Project Complete

St. Mary's Mumias Girls Secondary School in Kenya now has a new source of safe, clean water thanks to your support: A new rainwater catchment system has been built. Handwashing stations were installed, and students and staff have received training in sanitation and hygiene.

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school deputy principal, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for students, staff, and parent representatives. Individual teachers helped by selecting at least five students from each class to represent the others.

There were actually more students than we anticipated, many of whom wanted to take some form of leadership and responsibility for the new facilities. There were 58students in total.

A number of topics were covered, including personal hygiene such as 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. The new child to child (CTC) health club will be greatly involved in project management and will be responsible for encouraging good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community.

Handwashing training

The students were in a relaxed and jovial mood since they were through with their exams and were therefore very attentive and active. What made this special was that the students knew more about health and were able to share with us some of the health activities they practice both at home and in school.

"As a health club chairperson I am so glad you came to our school and imparted knowledge on us, because we now have a lot to share with our members during our meeting unlike in the past where we lacked credible agenda and were repeating the same things over and over again," Lilian said to us.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines. The girls received six new latrines for their use. 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.

We got an update a few days ago - the school has even added a coat of beautiful blue paint!

Handwashing Stations

The two handwashing stations were delivered to the school and handed over to the CTC club. These were placed outside of the boys’ and girls’ latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use.

Girls line up to use new handwashing station

CTC club members teach other students how to properly wash their hands at the stations, and make sure there is always soap or ash available. Now the school has the stations they need, and they have the water to fill them.

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 hardcore 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.

The iron mesh frame for the tank walls.

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

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.

The dome, like all parts of the tank, is constructed in layers to prevent leaking.

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

The ceremony was a great chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we’ve given, as well as remind them of our continued support as they develop.

"We believe we are now safe, we have plenty of water to use for drinking and also for cleaning. Since this is a girls school, total maintenance of hygiene is expected as we are the ones concerned with cleanliness both at home and in school," Ms. Jayleen Jeptum, a 15-year-old student, said.

"Our work has now become easier."

April, 2018: St. Mary's Girl's High School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at St. Mary's Girl's High 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: St. Mary's Girl's High School

July, 2019

A year ago, you funded a rain tank at St. Mary’s Girl’s High School in Kenya – creating a life-changing moment for Stephanie Juma. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in St. Mary's Girl's High School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Mary's Girl's High 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!

On a recent visit marking one year since the rain tank and sanitation projects were installed at St. Mary's Girl's High School, it is clear the projects have had a positive effect on this school.

The hygiene standards are very high as evidenced by a clean environment and spotlessly clean latrines, dormitories, and classrooms. The hygiene training concept was well received, and this, coupled with the water and sanitation facilities, have done wonders for this school.

Deputy Principal Mercy Luvai shared with us how these projects have changed the lives of her students and staff.

"We are very privileged [to] receive this second water tank, and to us, it was a great blessing," said Mercy.

"In the past, we had congestion at the first water tank. Then, [a different organization] came in with a borehole that was put up at the end of the field. This used to cause a lot of commotion in between the hostels and the fields but that is a thing of the past now. There is no more time wasted and we now have multiple water points. Washing and cleaning has been so easy for us. This school was [once] at a point of closure as it has a population of 1119 [students] and the facilities were not sufficient. We are so grateful for [you] considering us."

Students and staff

For 19-year-old student Stephanie Juma, life has never been the same at St. Mary's since the new water and sanitation projects were installed.

"For me, [now] I never have to worry about water in this school, and this has made me concentrate on my studies and have hope that I will perform well and join the university," Stephanie proudly reported.

"Thanks for creating an enabling environment for learning with the provision of the water and sanitation facilities," she added.

As our conversation with Stephanie continued, we discussed the challenges that many girls still face accessing enough sanitary supplies and safe environments to manage their menstruation. Stephanie said that the additional rain tank and latrines will help.

"A healthy girl who has no sanitation fears is not prone to diseases, and this will enhance her [school] performance," she said.

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 St. Mary's Girl's High 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 St. Mary's Girl's High 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.