Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 408 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/10/2024

Project Features

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Demesi Primary School is a very old school that started in 1930. It has grown slowly and steadily over the years to currently have a student population of 391 with 17 teachers and staff. These students have a huge campus; their playing field is so big that the Mbale rugby team comes to practice in the evenings and on the weekends here.

Children who attend Demesi Primary report to school by 7:00 am with water in their small yellow containers. They spend 30 minutes sweeping and cleaning up litter before morning announcements. Normal lessons begin at 8:00 am and last until lunchtime. Lunch is eaten at the school, an idea that was birthed by the head teacher after he realized that some students do not get fed when they are sent home for lunch. Afternoon lessons go from 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm when they take 30 minutes for recess.

But this normal schedule is often interrupted because students are removed from class and sent to fetch water from a community spring anytime the water they carried in the morning runs out.

The path to the spring gets very slippery when it rains, and some students fall and dirty their school uniforms. More importantly, they are at risk of getting hurt. Though water at the spring is sufficient, students often have to line up when they find many people already there fetching water. The spring is far from school so students can never seem to fetch enough for school use.

The parents worked hard to gather funds to buy plastic storage tanks to catch water in the hopes of cutting back on their children's trips to the spring. However, these add up to only a few thousand liters and do not last long without daily rain.

The head teacher explained that the latrines are always dirty and classrooms are not cleaned as frequently as she would like due to lack of enough water. She also explained that students do not wash their hands after using the latrines, which leads to diarrhea issues. Money and time are wasted when they return home looking for treatment.

"We just survive by sheer luck. The hygiene standards in this environment are very poor and dangerous for human lives. A lot has to be done to ensure our student's safety," said Teacher Otwere.

Students waste a lot of time when they go to the spring, which has dragged down academic performance as students get so tired out from the walk. Not having enough water affects their lives in so many ways, and makes students dread coming to school every day.

"Our students here suffer from diarrheal diseases which I believe are caused by the dirty water they drink from the river. That effects negatively on their performance," said Area Assistant Chief Barusi.

What we can do:

Rain Tank

A 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school and is a great solution because of the high rainfall in the area. The school will help gather the needed materials such as sand, rocks, and water for mixing cement. We will deliver the hardware, lumber, guttering, cement, and expertise needed to get the job done.

Once finished, this tank can begin catching rainfall that will be used strictly by the school's students. The administration has decided to keep on using the plastic tanks to make it easier for them to manage this precious resource.

We and the school strongly believe that with this assistance, standards will significantly improve leading to better academic performance.

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 m

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, 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. We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Project Updates

January, 2020: Demesi Primary School Project Complete!

Demesi 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 for students, handwashing stations, 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.

A boy enjoys water from the 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.

Students deliver water for construction

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.

Fitting the wire form over the rain tank's foundation

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 level ground and then reinforcing it using steel, concrete and waterproof cement.

Cementing inside the rain tank walls

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.

Pupils delivering water to mix cement while other students carry bricks to the latrine work site; dome work proceeds in the background

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.

Working on the dome

The school was well prepared in terms of organizing for the locally available materials and with organizing the hardware drop-off and storage, thus causing no delays in terms of preparation. There were rains experienced on each afternoon, however, as early as 3:00 pm and thus work sometimes had to be stopped until the next day. This prompted the artisans to start working as early as 6:00 am so that by the time the rains came, they would have cleared or almost cleared of their planned work for the day.

Completion of this project at Demesi Primary has come as a real blessing, said the school staff. At first, it seemed an impossible mission for the parents to support the effort by providing the locally available materials since many are farmers who depend on putting all of their energy into their fields for a living. With encouragement from the field officer who was in charge, however, the parents and the school put in all of their effort and the dream of the rain tank and latrines came true. The pupils gave it their all too by fetching the water that was used for construction. On being asked why they were so enthusiastic about fetching the water, many pupils said it was the last time they would be fetching water into the school compound once the tank was completed, so their effort was important. The students' gratitude was abundant.

Pupil enjoying water from the rain tank

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

"The greatest change I have experienced in this school concerning the water shortage is the coming of this rain tank...This will help us a long way. Our pupils will save much time that they have been using to fetch water. Now, they will instead be able to use that time in their classrooms," shared the school's health club patron, teacher Mrs. Virginia Nekesa.

Mrs. Virginia Nekesa with the elected student health club leaders

VIP Latrines

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

Girls pose with 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.

A staff member and boys pose with the new boys' 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.

Students and staff pose with a handwashing station

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school principal and Head Teacher Ms. Edith Alusa, 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.

The attendance was strong since the school already had an active student health club in place. 47 girls and 45 boys attended along with their health club patron, Mrs. Virginia Nekesa. The weather for the day was mild and therefore very conducive for an outdoor training venue.

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 reinforced 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.

Let's see those nails! Personal hygiene session

The participation of the attendees was overwhelming. At first, students were a bit reserved not knowing what to expect during the training. After we explained that it would be an open class forum where every answer would be accepted and the learning conditions would be different from their normal class lessons, they warmed up to the exercise. Asking and answering questions became fun throughout the training. The facilitator, Karen Maruti, had carried a packet of sweets that she awarded to anyone who answered questions. This caused a lot of attention amongst everyone as they wanted to partake in the rare gift of a sweet. All attendees were able to take part fully. The training concepts were adopted immediately as after the training everyone wanted to try out their handwashing skills on the new handwashing stations.

Handwashing with a leaky tin demonstration

At the beginning when it was time for the school health club patron, Mrs. Nekesa,  to introduce herself to the group, she started by saying she was so happy that we had taken time to train the school on health and hygiene issues. She added that the afternoon classes were always unbearable, especially to her being pregnant, because many pupils' personal hygiene was wanting and it made it difficult to focus in their shared environment. At this point, some of the pupils felt embarrassed, but the facilitator encouraged everyone that after the training they would not just better understand and appreciate good health and hygiene practices, but they would be more equipped to uphold them as well.

Pupils demonstrate proper tooth brushing during the dental hygiene session

During the dental hygiene lesson, the facilitator took the participants through the list of dental diseases, including their causes and their prevention. Demonstrations on the proper way of brushing teeth and storage of the toothpaste also took center stage with the pupils being encouraged to adopt the locally available materials such as chewing sticks (instead of floss) and ash (instead of toothpaste) for strong teeth.

Happy faces in front of the rain tank at the end of the training

"All along I have been brushing my teeth and washing my hands though not at all times, and I never knew I have been doing it the wrong way. Today I have learned the correct way of doing them both and will practice this. As pupils, we also didn't know that fighting for water at the drawing point of the tank could cause injuries, let alone lead to breaking the tap. We will be able to take care of the tank having received this training," Violet proudly stated, the student who was voted into the Secretary role of the student health club.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

November, 2019: Demesi Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Demesi 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!


Project Underwriter - H2O for Life
HOPE Walk For Water 2019
HCCS Campaign for Water
3 individual donor(s)