Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Feb 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 12/08/2022

Project Features

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St. Jospeh's Lusumu Primary School is one of the oldest institutions and among the first in this community, established in 1950. It is sponsored by the Catholic Church. Because of its longevity, the school currently boasts a population of 1,299 pupils and 22 teachers and staff.

This school is famously known as the only school in the area with a Special Unit for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired. The unit is made up of 30 pupils who learn in 1 classroom, taught by 3 teachers. (The biggest challenge for these students is that they cannot be broken into different classrooms based on age bracket due to a shortage of teachers qualified to teach using sign language.)

Accessing water here has always been a challenge. The school was excited when they got connected to a government-provided piped water system. However, they have been quickly disappointed by unreliability. They have called the service multiple times to be met with excuses. In the cases that someone comes out to take a look, the water will be back on for a few days but then stop again.

The service is strictly rationed and the school has short windows of time to fetch water from the tap. They report that so far this year, they get water three times a week for 2.5 hours each session. They don't have a good way to store the water when it comes - there's just a 5,000-liter plastic tank that lasts not even two days when strictly rationed.

The school is in desperate need of extra storage space so that the students don't go without water. When the tap system is down, students sit through an afternoon of class dehydrated.

"Lack of clean water in this school has contributed to a number of challenges we are facing now," said Teacher Were.

"The performance of the school has really gone down. In the year 2016 we had fifteen pupils who joined national schools, but last year we had only six pupils."

It's also a concern that the piped water is not safe for drinking.

"My name is Kasim and I have been in this school for the last 12 years. The greatest challenge in this school is accessing safe, clean drinking water. I cannot count the number of times that pupils have missed class and are taken to the health center for treatment. At times they are suffering from typhoid and other times bacteriological infection," said Teacher Kasim.

What we can do:


Hygiene here is observed at a minimal rate - they still need a lot of improvement. For example, they need a handwashing station near the pit latrines for students and teachers to wash hands after visiting the toilet to avoid diarrhea and other illnesses. The school also needs a reliable source of water that will provide water for use at any time. The school also needs to fence their garbage pit to prevent the garbage from blowing all over the place.

They need information on how to keep water clean and safe and how to clean their water containers. They will also need more knowledge on the importance of washing hands immediately after visiting the toilet as well as the operation and maintenance of the tank.

Training on good hygiene habits will be held for 1 day. 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

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

There are not enough latrines for the massive population. There are 14 pit latrines for the 737 boys and 15 for the 562 girls.

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

02/25/2020: St. Joseph's Lusumu Primary School Project Complete!

St. Joseph's Lusumu Primary 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.

"Look, clean water!"

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.

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.

Adding concrete to the rain tank foundation

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.

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.

Artisans and laborers work on cementing interior of rain tank

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.

Fitting the wire and sugar sack dome skeleton to the tank walls

The school administration had planned for everything needed hence there was no delay or challenge at all. Once finished, the tank was given 3 weeks to undergo complete curing before it was cleaned and handed over to St. Joseph's Lusumu Primary School, though we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program.

Making a splash at the rain tank

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 Board of Management, Head Teacher Kasim Baraza, staff, and pupils all acknowledged the contribution our team had made to the school as well as their own contributions and work. Finally, the school community was given full authority to manage all of the WaSH projects.

''Thank you so much for this wonderful project. We will no longer toil coming with water to school anymore. We will, therefore, have enough time to be in class and this will absolutely add value to our grades,'' said student Ibrahim.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of 6 new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, half for girls and half for boys. 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.

Girls pose with 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. 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.

A pupil uses a handwashing station

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school principal and Head Teacher Kasim Baraza, who together helped ensure 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.

A student helps lead an activity at training

12 pupils attended training, which we considered a good turnout considering the best training day ended up being during a school holiday, so the students were not already present on campus. It was a hot and sunny day when we arrived, so the team decided to conduct training outside under the tree. This location was so nice because the light and fresh air were plentiful and this made the training so enjoyable. The attendees were all very active though it was noted that some of the girls were a little shy to express themselves at first.

Pupils learn the 10 steps of handwashing at 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 learn the parts of the rain tank at training

The handwashing session was particularly enjoyed among participants. The pupils were so overwhelmed with the availability of 2 new handwashing stations and were excited to have the chance to wash their hands after visiting the latrines and at any other time. The passion we saw during the entire training, especially in the dental care and handwashing lessons, was an indicator that the students will be able to apply the skills and knowledge gained both at school and at home to improve personal hygiene and sanitation.

"Thank you so much for helping us learn how to properly wash our hands, brush our teeth, and more so that access to safe and clean water will prevent us from contracting diseases," said pupil Silas.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

01/27/2020: St. Joseph's Lusumu Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Joseph's Lusumu 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

Rainwater Catchment

Rainwater is collected off strategic areas of a roof, enters a custom guttering system (which filters out debris) and leads to a storage tank. Tanks can vary in sizes and are determined by population and average rainfall patterns. Water can be stored for months, is easily treated in the tank, and is accessible through taps. These projects are implemented at schools with proper roof lines and gutter systems to make them successful.


Ashley and Hannah Hoffmann
Cameron Strayer
Positive Frequency
Reflections of light
17 individual donor(s)