Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/07/2024

Project Features

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There are 738 students attending Essongolo Primary School.

A day for a pupil attending Essongolo Primary School starts as early as 6am when they wake up. Some of the pupils narrated that they have chores to accomplish before they embark on the journey to school. Some have to care for the cows while others have to fetch water for home use before going to school. They walk to school with whatever the teacher might have demanded them to carry to school the previous day - most of the time it being water, since the school doesn't have water of its own.

There is a hole found on school property. The school says the government intended to make this a borehole, but only the drilling was done. No pipes were fitted and nobody has ever explained to the school why the project stalled. Calls to their offices have been futile.

That means students have to get their water elsewhere. Students most often get their water from a spring in the community that's about two kilometers away from the school. The journey is not only long, but the terrain is bumpy and steep as well.

School lessons start at 8:20am with two lessons each taking 35 minutes. This runs them to 9.30 am for their first break which takes 20 minutes. The lunch program is only for pupils in class six, seven, and eight. Other pupils have to run back home from their lunch. Some are privileged to find something to eat while others will just run back to school on an empty stomach since the parents could not afford anything for lunch.

With orders from the teacher on duty, the pupils have to come back with water. After all the lunch hour struggles with many coming in late, they settle down at 2pm for afternoon classes.

The school has a central room where students put all of their water containers. They then run this water through filters so that they can more safely drink it.

Mr. Oriedo, a teacher in this school, says:

The lack of water in school affects our school hygiene and also our feeding program. Hygiene has highly been affected since you find most of these pupils go the spring barefooted and step in the contaminated water. The same jerrycans they use to fetch the water will again be used to wash the latrines and again wash the plates. We have to interrupt the pupils' learning so that they can fetch water. This has had parents complain of their children always being seen on the road going to fetch water. What has saved us from these chaotic parents is the school's performance. We try our best to ensure the pupils perform in their national (final) examinations. Sometimes when these pupils are released to go fetch water, we get cases of pupils interfering with the community members properties - especially in the farms. They tend to steal farm products that are ready like maize and sweet potatoes. Above all, they miss their classes. The little ones (baby class) sometimes find no water at the LifeStraw containers when the bigger pupils have consumed it all and end up drinking the one available in the containers from the spring.

What we can do:

"Water is the ultimate thing when it comes to sanitation and hygiene. We have had a hard time ensuring that our pupils practice good hygiene with water scarcity," said Headmistress Enane.

"Our children don't wash their hands after visiting the toilet. We can't afford to wash our classes every day due to lack of water. If you look at our pupils' uniforms you will notice that they are mud stains, not because they came in dirty but because they have been scrambling at the spring to fetch water. The situation is just not good."

The ministry of health has already contacted the headmistress about dangerous latrines. If anything isn't done to fix them, the school is at risk of being shut down.


Training on good hygiene habits 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. Three doors will serve the girls while the other three serve the boys. 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

June, 2019: Essongolo Primary School Project Complete

There is a new rainwater catchment system at Essongolo 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 received training in sanitation and hygiene.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

Construction of this new rainwater catchment tank was a big success.

"The spring is so far and I had always felt disturbed whenever the teacher asked us to go fetch water," recalled 14-year-old John.

"For all the years I have been in this school and this being my final year, I feel the availability of this tank is the best thing that has ever happened in this school."

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.

Community members helped our artisans by gathering a lot of supplementary materials like stones and sand. The school also worked with the community to have meals and tea prepared for the work team. This joint effort to support our team was a big part of this project's success.

Lunch ready and waiting to be served to our artisans

The actual construction of the rainwater tank began with excavation. Stones were then carefully packed onto the excavated area to create a strong foundation. An iron weave of waterproof cement was cast over these stones to create the slab foundation.

As this was being done, the wall’s skeleton of wire mesh and rebar was erected and secured into the foundation. Upon completion of the foundation, the walls were cemented and plastered to completion both inside and outside.

The catchment area was dug, plastered, and a staircase installed so students can easily get water from the tap. A metal cover with a lock was placed over the catchment area to avoid water wastage.

A concrete reinforcement pillar was built up to support the dome, which was also made of strong wire and rebar mesh and concrete. A hatch was installed in the dome to allow the tank to be cleaned out before heavy rain, and the gutter system was also installed at this time.

Once finished, the tank was given three weeks to undergo complete curing before it was cleaned and handed over to Essongolo Primary School, though we will continue to offer them great support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We trained the school on the frequency of gutter and tank cleaning to ensure that they collect clean water. In addition, we do routine treatment of the water every three months using rock alum and chlorine.

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, three latrine doors for the boys and three latrine doors for the girls. 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.

These latrines are such a big deal for Essongolo Primary School because they were previously at risk of closure. Headmistress Mirriam Enane was relieved to find out this water project included latrines so that the next time the health department comes, she'll be able to show that they now have adequate latrines.

New Knowledge

It was a bit cloudy and cold on the day of training due to a heavy downpour the previous night, but it got warmer as training progressed. Since the weather was steadily improving, we chose to hold our training in an open outside area within the school compound. The students in attendance formed a child to child (CTC) health club that will share what they learned with their peers and families at home.

The students were tense at first because of the presence of their teachers (they thought maybe they were being graded). Our facilitator had to put them at ease by explaining that our training wouldn't be like other normal academic classes, rather it was to be a participatory class and every answer and contribution is totally accepted. There would be no punishments or shame for wrong answers. This made the students comfortable and they henceforth participated and had lots of fun doing so!

We gave students new notebooks and pens so that they could jot down what they learned

The students also needed knowledge on how to improve standards of hygiene and ensure that the sanitation facilities given to them are well-maintained for years to come. Some of the topics we covered included:

– handwashing

– dental hygiene, and other facets of personal hygiene

– environmental hygiene

During these topics, the facilitator engaged the participants and had them brainstorm some ways they can keep both the environment and themselves clean. The participants mentioned several things like bathing, cutting nails, shaving hair, brushing teeth, sweeping the compound, burning rubbish, and planting trees among many others. They must wash their hands before eating, after visiting the latrine, after changing a baby's diaper, and even before cooking. Students had fun learning the 10 steps of thorough handwashing and liked trying to recall every step in front of their peers.

At this point, the facilitator also reminded them to brush their teeth. Participants can brush their teeth using local resources like salt and charcoal. If a family can afford toothpaste, of course, that can and should be used. Students were really happy during these sessions because each one received a new toothbrush.

– water pollution and ways to treat drinking water
– group dynamics along with leadership and governance for the newly formed CTC health club

The students participated in team-building exercises to prepare them to work together as a CTC club

– operations and maintenance of the tank, latrines, and handwashing stations

The tank area is to always be kept clean. The new CTC club should also clean the gutters on a monthly basis and clean the tank termly (with adult supervision of course). She educated them on the importance of treating the latrines using kitchen ash, so students planning to carry ash from home to deodorize the latrine pits.

"I try to brush my teeth every day because my mum has bought me a toothbrush and toothpaste, but I have learned today that I have not been doing it the right way. The motions have been wrong and I have been endangering my gums," said 14-year-old Jane.

"From today, I will do it the right way."

April, 2019: Essongolo Primary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at Essongolo Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to solve this issue by building 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 news of success!

Project Videos

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!


1 individual donor(s)