Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 446 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/09/2024

Project Features

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Mwichina Primary School was established in 1978 on a 1.5-acre parcel of land full of rocks. It is sponsored by the Anglican Church of Kenya. The classes began under a tree, and Head Teacher Mr. Silas Ominde told us the school has not changed much since then as it still has the same water problems it did when it opened.

The school primarily depends on a protected spring off-campus that is shared with community members, and a small 5,000-liter rain tank on school grounds. The current rain tank is tiny compared to the 446 students and staff who depend on it, and it never meets their needs. The spring is quite far from school, which means pupils waste a lot of time when they go to fetch water from it. As the students compete with community members for water, it reaches a time when school children are requested to wait or chased away until all community members fetch water before they do.

Pupils come back so tired from the spring and cannot study well when exhausted. This, in the end, affects their academic performance. Because it is the pupils who fetch water for school use, they are also the ones who pay the price when water is not readily available for drinking, cooking, or cleaning.

"This school has not found any donor or partner to [help us] access clean and safe water. The pupils have to draw water from the protected spring thus affecting their study time which in turn affects their academic performance. I am very happy that God has led you to come to our school and rescue the situation," said Mr. Livingstone Obutiti, the Deputy Head Teacher at the school.

We first learned about Mwichina Primary School's situation through a connection from the Head Teacher of Shibinga Primary School, who encouraged Mr. Ominde to contact our team of field officers to initiate a visit. We have been working with Mwichina Primary ever since. The school population now stands at 425 students with 18 teachers and 3 staff.

Mwichina is a rural area with hilly and rocky terrain. Neighbors of the school grow mainly maize for subsistence and sugarcane as a cash crop. Illiteracy and poverty continue to pose challenges to community members here and often stagnate development in the area. Most of the buildings here are semi-permanent, with iron sheet roofs and mud walls.

The school has 16 permanent classrooms, a small kitchen, and a dirt playing field. They do not have handwashing facilities or any container with water close to their few latrines. The latrines are very dirty which means they are not cleaned frequently because there is not enough water to spare to do so.

"Poor hygiene can cause diseases that could even lead to death," said Mr. Silas Ominde, the Head Teacher at the school.

"Pupils do not understand the importance of practicing good sanitation and hygiene and when we tell them, they still do nothing. There is [a] need to take matters concerning hygiene and sanitation seriously among the pupils."

Pupils report to school by 7:00 am. Upon arrival, they either head to the spring for water or carry out the cleaning of the compound, then start normal lessons at 8:00 am which go to 9:30 am when they go to break for 15 minutes. They get back to class at 9:45 am until 12:45 pm, when they are released for lunch. After lunch, the pupils return at 2:00 pm to attend afternoon lessons which end at 4:00 pm until the following day. Fetching water from the spring occurs throughout the day, as water is needed and as it runs out, interrupting valuable class and study time.

What we can do:

Rain Tank

A 50,000-liter rain tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will help collect the needed construction materials such as sand, bricks, rocks, and water for mixing cement. We will complement their materials by providing an expert team of artisans, tools, hardware, and the guttering system. Once finished, this tank will begin catching rainfall that will be used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.

We and the school strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve standards at this school, which will help lead to better student academic performance and will help to unlock the potential for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Handwashing Stations

There is currently nowhere for students to wash their hands after using the latrines or before eating lunch, let alone the water to do so.

The student health club will oversee the 2 new handwashing stations we will provide, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The club leaders will fill the handwashing stations with water daily and make sure they are always supplied with a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.

VIP Latrines

2 triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. 3 doors will serve the girls while the other 3 will serve the boys. All of these new latrines will have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and to clean. And with a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.


We will hold a 1-day intensive training on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits at this school. Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train students and staff on a wide range of topics, including participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation (PHAST) and asset-based community development (ABCD). We will initiate a child-to-child (CTC) student health club, which will prepare students to lead other pupils into healthy habits at school and at home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions, and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good hygiene practices within the school including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Project Updates

February, 2020: Mwichina Primary School Project Complete!

Mwichina Primary Schoo School in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tank, which has the ability to collect 50,000 liters of water. We installed new latrines and handwashing stations for students, and we trained students and staff on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. All of these components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Girls celebrate the newly completed rain tank

Rain Tank

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

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

Boys help carry lumber to the construction site

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 rain tank. This needed to be the best site with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater.

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

Girls help pour water into the rain tank foundation

Both the drawing pipe as well as the washout pipe were affixed as the foundation was laid. The wall was built with ferro-cement techniques through 6 layers. The inner wall was plastered while rough casting was done on the outer part. Finally, the catchment area was dug, plastered, and a staircase installed.

Central support pillar sticks out from cemented rain tank while artisan digs access area

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.

Cutting wire and sugar sack dome structure to fit the tank before cementing

Once finished, the tank was given 3 weeks to undergo complete curing before it was cleaned and handed over to Mwichina Primary Schoo School, though we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program.

The celebration 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.

The Head Teacher, school staff, Board of Management, and pupils all acknowledged the contribution our team had made to the school. Finally, the school community was given full authority to manage all of the WaSH projects.

A pupil enjoying water from the rain tank

"As a school, we are grateful to The Water Project for the water tank, latrines, and handwashing facilities. Previously, the school did not have a reliable water source," explained an excited sanitation teacher at the school, Madam Emily Werimo.

The students were not to be left out in expressing themselves. Form 7 pupil Zenah, who was elected Chair of the student health club, shared her thanks as well.

"On behalf of my fellow pupils and the entire school, I really appreciate The Water Project for considering our school with such facilities. The facilities will help to improve the hygiene and sanitation standard at our school," she said.

Students say "Thank you!" for the new rain tank

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of 6 new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, half for girls and half for boys. The only challenge in the construction of these latrines was the very rocky ground in this area. Getting the right depth for the toilets took several attempts but finally, the right depth was reached and all work continued as planned.

Girls give thumbs up for their new latrines

All of these new latrines have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and clean. And with a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.

Boys celebrate their new latrines

Handwashing Stations

The 2 handwashing stations were delivered to the school and handed over to the student health club. These were placed outside of the girls’ and boys’ latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use.

Girls line up to wash their hands

Health club members teach other students how to properly wash their hands at the stations, make sure the stations are filled with water, and work to ensure that there is always soap or ash available.

New Knowledge

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

21 students attended training, which was conducted under a big tree. The location was conducive for the training session as the pupils enjoyed sitting on the big stones and they provided beautiful scenery during the training. Trainers Mary Afandi and Rose Amulavu observed that the girls were more active in their participation than the boys, perhaps because they were excited to learn about matters related to hygiene and sanitation.

Students respond to Trainer Mary's prompt during training

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

Pupils try out toothbrushing using a soft Cyprus chew stick and salt as toothbrush and toothpaste alternatives, respectively

During the Dental Care topic, the pupils used a stick obtained from a Cyprus tree and chewed it at the end to improvise for a toothbrush. With the stick, they used salt to rinse the mouth in place of toothpaste. This was a good example of how locally available materials could be used for dental care. The participants promised to teach the same to the members of their families and friends both at school and at home.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Mwichina Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Mwichina Primary 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 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 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!