Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 288 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/05/2024

Project Features

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"As a school administrator, I feel like I have let my school down by not having water in the school," said Mr. Macdaff Lutomia Wamalwa, the principal at Ebubole Secondary School.

"Water is life and a school cannot run without water. Whenever these students look at me with exhaustion it really makes my heart bleed. We really need this project!"

Ebubole Secondary School was established in 2014 to meet the need for students who had completed primary school and could not afford the nearby secondary boarding schools. Ebubole Secondary is a community school sponsored by the United Pentecostal Church (UPC) and located next to Ebubole Primary School. (We are working with the primary school to see if we can help relieve their water crisis, too). The surrounding area is filled with homesteads where at the time of writing, people were busy at work planting their second season of maize for the year.

Ebubole Secondary and its 269 students and 19 teachers and staff have really suffered for a while with no water on the school compound. Fetching water from the nearby spring is a part of the daily routine for the students.

The normal school session begins at 7:00 am when students begin their routine for fetching water from the spring, washing the latrines, sweeping classrooms, and sweeping the compound. At 8:00 am classes begin with 2 breaks before lunch, then after lunch classes resume from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. After classes end, some students are assigned to wash the classrooms while others go for games and club sessions depending on the school calendar and day of the week. Normally the day ends at 5:00 pm, with the exception of Wednesdays when students go to fetch water again in the evening in preparation for their early church services on Thursday mornings.

A hand-dug well with a pump previously installed saw the school excited that their water problem had been solved, only to be let down after the well went dry shortly after construction. Ever since then, the students have been forced to go back to their original water source at school: a spring 500 meters away that is shared with community members.

The spring was protected over 20 years ago. Over the past few years, some community members planted eucalyptus trees around the site, which require large amounts of water to grow and have subsequently reduced the spring's yield, increasing the amount of time it takes to fill up each container.

The students are always complaining because they are required to fetch water from the spring every morning. This, in turn, wastes their valuable time for morning preps when they should be studying and reviewing their work.

The students often become sick with the common cold because of the energy spent collecting water from a source that is not properly maintained. Community members are frustrated with the students at the spring who lengthen the line for fetching water. And they also blame the children for issues that arise at the spring. The 2 groups are often at odds for who gets to collect water first.

"I should be concentrating on my morning preps [but] instead I waste a lot of time fetching water from this spring. Before I came to this school I had no chest pains but nowadays chest pains and headaches are common. It is affecting me so much," said 17-year-old student Saumu.

The quality of the water students fetch is then compromised by its handling. Without any practices in place to treat the water back at school, dirty containers and hands that go without handwashing mean that students contract water-related diseases such as amoeba and typhoid. Those with no shoes at the spring contract bilharzia because of the poor drainage system. Students complain of headaches, colds, and the flu, not to mention the chest, body, and arm pains associated with carrying their heavy containers across the hilly landscape every day. All of these can lead to missed days of school that negatively impact the students' progression and performance.

Other problems associated with students fetching water at the spring is their lateness to class when fetching water takes a long time, and absenteeism due to some students avoiding coming in the day they know their class has been assigned to fetch water. Others deliberately delay whenever they are sent for water at the spring, wasting precious class time.

What we can do:

Rain Tank

A 75,000-liter rainwater catchment 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 unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Handwashing Stations

We noticed 3 handwashing stations already present at Ebubole Secondary School. The one for the teachers had soap but the 2 for students had no soap or ash and are located near the kitchen, which means that the sensitization and practice of handwashing at other critical points are wanting, especially outside the latrines.

The student health club will oversee the 2 new handwashing stations we will provide in addition to the 3 already present on campus, 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

A pair of 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

June, 2020: Ebubole UPC Secondary School Project Complete!

Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into effect.

Ebubole UPC Secondary 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 75,000 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.

Pointing to the flowing water from the completed rain tank's tap

"I will have enough time to use for my studies since now the water is in the school, unlike earlier when we used to go far in search of water and we wasted a lot of valuable time doing so. Also, at the spring we had conflict with the community," reflected pupil Selina.

"My studies will improve since I will have time for them, I will have enough time to revise for examinations, and enough time for extracurricular activities like ball games which I love so much. I will also have time to engage with fellow students; earlier it was impossible because free time was always spent on fetching water," shared an excited Selina.

Student Selina

Teachers were just as excited as the students about the new rain tank on campus.

"Definitely with safe water, my health will improve. I will stop suffering from waterborne diseases. I was always afraid to use water from the protected spring because of its handling, but now I will comfortably drink the water from the tank because it is safe and also clean," said Principal Mr. Macdaff Lutomia.

When asked what he was looking forward to now that the rain tank is on school grounds, Mr. Lutomia listed a few goals in mind.

Principal Lutomia

"Academic improvement due to time saved since there will be no more water fetching outside the school. Moving out of school will no longer be allowed as this was insecure for the students. The health of the learners will improve. No more absenteeism due to water-related diseases. With additional guttering, we expect to harvest the maximum water capacity. Such facilities will bring in more students and with the national transition of 100% of primary students to secondary schools, the population will definitely increase."

Students make a splash at the completed rain tank

While Kenyan schools remain closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these new water and sanitation facilities will be ready and waiting for the students' return.

Rain Tank

Construction for this 75,000-liter rain tank was successful!

Before schools closed, parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. All the while, the school cooks and community members 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.

Collected construction materials on school grounds

There was one student in particular at Ebubole UPC Secondary School who had overdue school fees. As a means of arrears, the student offered to bring stones and gravel for the construction project to offset the outstanding balance. This one student's actions really motivated other students to help out in the project and do their part to collect materials too. The local Member of Parliament for Mumias East also supported this project using the locally available government funds for such developments.

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 enough land and a nearby building with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater.

Adding stones and breaking down some pieces to achieve a level foundation

Then, we cleared the site by excavating the soil to make level ground for the tank foundation. The foundation was cast by laying big stones on the level ground and reinforcing them using steel wire, concrete, and waterproof cement. We affixed both the drawing pipe and the drainage pipe as we laid the foundation.

Team Leader Emmah with field officers measure the wire skeleton and foundation

Next, we formed the outer walls using a skeleton of rebar and wire mesh with sugar sacks temporarily tied to the outside as backing. This skeleton was attached to the foundation’s edges so that the work team could start the Ferro-cementing process, in which the walls are layered with cement alternating with the inner and outer side until 6 layers of cement are in place. (We remove the sugar sacks once the interior receives its first 2 layers of cement.)

Interior cement work

Inside the tank, we cast 1 central and 4 support pillars to ensure the dome does not cave in once cemented. Meanwhile, we plastered the inner wall while roughcasting the outer walls.

Plastering the pillars

Outside of the tank, the access area to the tap was dug, plastered, and a short staircase installed, along with a soak pit where spilled water can drain from the access area through the ground. This helps to keep the tap area dry and tidy.

Outer cement work

Dome construction could begin after the tank walls had been given enough time to settle. Using similar techniques as used on the walls, the dome started as rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks and was attached to the tank walls before receiving cement and plaster. A small manhole cover was built into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.

Sewing sugar sacks to wire mesh for the dome's skeleton

Long wooden poles (about 75 of them!) were placed inside the tank to support the dome while it cured. A lockable manhole cover was fitted over the tap area, the gutters were affixed to the roof and the tank and an overflow pipe was set in place at the edge of the dome for when the tank reaches capacity.

Looking down on the freshly cemented dome and tank skirt

Once finished, the rain tank was given 3-4 weeks to undergo complete curing. Finally, the interior support poles and dome sugar sacks were removed, the tank was cleaned, and we waited as rain filled the tank with fresh water. When there was a sufficient volume in the tank, we treated the water and we officially handed it over to Ebubole UPC Secondary School.

The handing-over ceremony between field officers and school administrators.

As soon as it was ready, students and staff celebrated the presence of clean water on campus. The event was a great chance for us to acknowledge the school administration and students as the primary parties entrusted with the tools we have given, as well as remind them of our continued support as they develop. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

Girls celebrating the rain tank

"The students are a happy lot!" reported Team Leader Emmah upon the completion of this project.

Boys posing while fetching water

VIP Latrines

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

Girls pose with their new VIP latrines

All of these new latrines have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and clean, locking doors for safety and privacy, and vents designed to keep air flowing up and out through the roof. With a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.

Boys pose in the doors of their new VIP latrines

Handwashing Stations

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

Handwashing with a new station

Health club members will 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 a cleaning agent such as soap or ash available.

Handwashing with a new station

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school principal, who 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. When the training day arrived, Team Leader Emmah Nambuye Wekesa along with trainers Jacky Kangu and Lynah Akuku deployed to the site.

Team Leader and Trainer Emmah leads the training day at Ebubole UPC Secondary

20 students attended training, along with 2 sanitation teachers, the Chair of the Parent-Teacher Association, the school's kitchen staff, and the Chair of the Board of Management to represent the parents. Training was held inside a classroom and outside for practicals. The participants were in high spirits and really eager to use the new water and sanitation facilities.

Emmah checks in on a group discussion

We covered a number of topics including personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, and the 10 steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights; operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations; and leadership and governance. During the latter, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club.

A student reports her group's work

Because we held this training when the spread of COVID-19 was still in its early stages and was not yet worldwide, this was not a topic we covered. Since then, however, we have developed trainings exclusively on COVID-19 prevention and awareness. See how we continue to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines in all of the communities we serve.

The club will be greatly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at school and will be responsible for encouraging good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community. We involved stretches, dances, and physical activities in between each topic to keep the pupils’ energy up and their minds active. By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.

Students take a mid-day stretch

During the personal hygiene session, the participants were particularly conversant on matters of body hygiene, cleaning of clothes, maintaining short nails, and ensuring proper grooming of the hair. They agreed that "Cleanliness is next to Godliness!" as one student named Beatrice said. When we divided the students into groups to discuss personal hygiene, environmental hygiene, and food hygiene, each group had a wonderful session since they had all the content with them. "This was really great!" reflected Team Leader Emmah.

Another memorable topic was our discussion on the maintenance of the rain tank. The pupils amazed us by outlining the step-by-step construction process of the tank from excavation to the guttering. They were keen to watch the tank fill up, they said, and they were happy that they would get to help maintain it so that it can serve them and their school for a long time to come.

Handwashing session with Trainer Lynnah

"This training will really change me and the whole world. I will use this knowledge to impact not only the school but also ensure that the environment and water are safe so that we can live longer," said pupil Kevin.

Handwashing practical

When an issue arises concerning the water project, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our team of field officers to assist them. In addition, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

May, 2020: Ebubole UPC Secondary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Ebubole UPC Secondary Schooly 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!

Giving Update: Ebubole UPC Secondary School

July, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped Ebubole UPC Secondary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Esther. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Ebubole UPC Secondary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ebubole UPC Secondary 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!

"We used to go to fetch water at the protected spring but the villagers denied us access. Now, there is water available to drink from the tank at the school and I am no longer sick. Academically, my studies have improved since I have time to study and I intend to continue doing well," said Esther, a 15-year-old student.

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 Ebubole UPC Secondary 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 Ebubole UPC Secondary 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.


Project Sponsor - Imago Dei Community
12 individual donor(s)