Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 530 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/13/2024

Project Features

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Please note original photos and interviews predate the pandemic.

Getting water at Makunga Secondary School is neither simple nor easy for the 500 students and 30 staff who come here every day.

The school owns 4 small plastic rain tanks, but only 2 of them are in use due to the other 2 lacking gutters. (The parents of the students promised to install these gutters, but it has yet to happen and the school has stopped expecting it.) The 2 functional tanks together have the ability to hold just 11,000 liters of water - not even close to enough for all of the school's daily drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. The plastic tanks are also located across the road from the school's kitchen, one of the main locations the water is needed. With speedy motorbikes frequently passing by, each cross of the road puts students at risk of being hit.

When the rains stop coming so frequently and these small tanks dry up, students are forced to go to fetch water from a spring shared with the community. This brings a whole new set of problems to the school, including conflicts with community members trying to fetch water, students skipping class for the rest of the day, and increased cases of indiscipline.

"During the dry season, it is so difficult here with no water in the school. You have eaten but there is no water to quench your thirst, to wash your hands, or to clean your plates. We get forced to go fetch water from a spring which is very tiresome and time-wasting,'' said student Joseline.

Students get to school at 6:30 am, when they start cleaning and fetching water from either the 2 tanks, the spring, or both. Those who make the trip to the spring especially are prone to missing their morning preps and sometimes even their first lessons, which start at 8:00 am. Community members insist on fetching their water before the students, and the line is long. This, combined with the walk to and from the spring, means a lot of wasted energy and class time.

Across all of these sources, there is no method for treating water or cleaning the rain tanks at Makunga Secondary School. Because the water students fetch is combined for use, even 1 contaminated source means everyone suffers.

"I can't drink water from any of the sources simply because it is not clean and safe; they don't treat their water in any way so it's not safe for drinking," said Field Officer Betty Mwangi during her visit.

There are increasing cases of typhoid and flu reported due to the consumption of the untreated water.

"I fear taking water while I'm at school because the water is not clean, so contracting waterborne diseases is very easy,'' said Principal Mr. Elphas Chumba Mudeheri.

"The issue of not having enough water in our school has really become a big problem in that every morning, students queue at the plastic tanks that the school has, then cross over the road carrying water to the kitchen for cooking. This is very dangerous because they do waste time and at the same time they do take advantage of that to engage themselves with outsiders who pass by the road...If we had a bigger tank that could collect enough water, I'm very sure all of the issues of water that the school is going through will come to an end," Mr. Mudeheri said.

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 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.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

All primary and secondary schools are currently closed in Kenya due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are scheduled to reopen in January 2021. Once classes resume, we will schedule a training session with students, teachers, and parents. This intensive training will cover a wide range of topics including COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention; personal and environmental hygiene; and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a special emphasis on handwashing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train, including participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, and asset-based community development. We will initiate a 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

January, 2021: Makunga Secondary School Project Complete!

We have exciting news!

Students and teachers finally arrived back in class at Makunga Secondary School following the Kenyan government's order to fully reopen all schools for in-person learning in January. As soon as students returned, their teachers invited our team to conduct our COVID-19 prevention, hygiene, and sanitation training.

While there, we also officially handed over the rain tank and latrines to the school. It was a joyous occasion, even with most smiles hidden behind masks. Students celebrated by drinking and splashing water, singing, dancing, and washing their hands.

Field Officer Protus Ekesa (right) hands over the rain tank to the school's principal

"The water will help me to avoid dehydration while in school since each time I feel like drinking water, I will be running to the tap and drinking, unlike in the past where I would carry water, and then it became hot," said pupil Sandra.

"I will improve in my studies. I have a dream of becoming a doctor, and with water around, I will now be able to dedicate my time to studies and excel in my exams," Sandra added.

Girls celebrate the rain tank

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

"When on duty, I will be having an effortless time in terms of time management from both the students and the meals being ready for the teachers. The students will be settling in class very fast without much time wastage. I will have enough time to revise with students, therefore achieving a higher mean score in my subjects, which are mathematics and chemistry," said teacher Madam Vivian Maiyo.

Principal and students pose at the rain tank.


The school and our team agreed that adherence to physical distancing and mask-wearing whenever possible would be necessary to train the students safely. With a strict timetable to minimize exposure and an eager student body ready to learn, we sent facilitators Protus, Joyce, and David to lead the training.

11 students and teachers attended training, which we held inside a classroom and outside near the practical sessions' rain tanks. We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics.

Trainer Protus next to teacher Vibian Maiyo leading the handwashing exercise at training.

Other topics the facilitators covered included personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, the ten steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights; operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations; and leadership and governance.

Handwashing using a new station.

During the governance session, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club. The club will be greatly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at their school. They will also be responsible for encouraging good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community.

Girls pose at their new VIP latrines.

We involved stretches, dances, and physical activities 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.

Handwashing at a new station.

The most memorable training topic was teaching the students the ten handwashing steps, our facilitators said. During this exercise, one student named Isaac said that they had washed hands "almost one million times" in only the two days since they had returned to school! We assured the students that while it can feel like a lot of handwashing, it is crucial to keep themselves healthy and safe from COVID-19 and all germs and diseases dirty hands can carry. Faridah, another student, said that the new ten-step handwashing technique was interesting and should be taken up by her peers immediately.

A student celebrates the rain tank.

This conversation led students to discuss all of the changes since their arrival at school and how they felt about them. Belton, whose peers elected him as President of their new student health club, lamented that he has to put his dream of becoming a great footballer on hold due to the suspension of organized sports in schools. He also joked that he had forgotten his friends' names since it had been such a long time since they last saw each other in March. But for the training, he was grateful.

"This training has opened my eyes to the simple things I have been doing wrong. I will now ensure that I improve on my personal hygiene and also keep my environment clean," Belton said.

The newly elected student treasurer of the club, Mary, also found value in training and shared what it has been like as a student home from school since last March.

"This information has changed my perspective on COVID-19. I will use this information to help my colleagues and me to take all the measures put down by the Ministry of Health to avoid contracting the disease, which is deadly," said Mary.

Girls at their new latrines

"The school closings affected my plan on completing school on time. My focus was also affected negatively because, at home, it was difficult to read with home chores. I am worried about the virus because it has affected our school calendar, and it has also claimed so many lives."

Mary said she missed her debate club at school the most while at home, but that she is now excited and grateful to be back since she was not even sure she would have the opportunity to continue her studies. And though school today looks different from what it did last year, Mary knows the changes are in the students' best interest and safety.

"The school is taking the temperatures of all the persons coming to school, we have handwashing stations at the entrance, and they are telling students to wear face masks and keep the social distance."

Trainer Joyce shows a student the correct way to put on and wear a mask.

After training, Mary said she will now add a few items to her personal prevention checklist.

"I will clean surfaces that I am using, I will be washing hands with clean and running water with soap for at least twenty seconds, and I will be wearing a face mask in the right manner," she said

When an issue arises concerning the water project, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify most problems and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers' team to assist them.

Trainer Protus demonstrates use of the elbow for coughs and sneezes.

We will also continue to offer the school unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program. When schools fully reopen, we will continue to engage them in coronavirus prevention training and reminders.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

November, 2020: Construction Complete at Makunga Secondary School

Construction of the rain tank and VIP latrines at Makunga Secondary School is now complete!

The complete rain tank at Makunga Secondary School

When Kenya closed schools nationwide in March 2020 to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, we worked carefully to ensure already-planned projects like the one at Makunga Secondary School reached completion despite the closure. To achieve this, we relied on a combination of mutual trust and communication with the school and students' families to finish construction while keeping our team and the community safe.

Kenyan schools were initially scheduled to reopen in January 2021, when we planned to train students and teachers on COVID-19 prevention, handwashing, and how to take care of their new rain tanks and latrines.

However, recently, the Kenyan government allowed certain students to resume their classes for the remainder of 2020. Upon hearing this news, we treated the water in every school rain tank to ensure a fresh supply of drinking water for the returning pupils.

An Operation and Maintenance team stands on top of a school rain tank to measure the water levels through the removable cover to calculate the amount of treatment required.

With some students now back at Makunga Secondary School, we acted quickly to offer our health, hygiene, and COVID-19 training to better use the clean water from their rain tank to keep students and teachers safe and healthy. We are currently working with the school's administration to determine the best time for their training, as it depends on their students' immediate academic needs and their communities' risk level.

Clean water flows from the new rain tank

Until we can formally hand over the rain tank and VIP latrines to the school and conduct health and hygiene training, we consider this project “incomplete.” That is why we extended the expected completion date to the end of the year, though the final decision of when to host training rests with the school.

The training will ideally include students, teachers, and parents. This one-day intensive will focus on COVID-19 prevention and handwashing. The trainers will also cover a wide range of topics, including personal and environmental hygiene and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations.

A new VIP latrine block with three doors

Once we complete the health and hygiene training and safely celebrate the school's ownership of the project, we will be sure to send you an update.

Luckily, most students in this school live in communities where we have already completed several rounds of COVID-19 sensitization training. We are continuing to work with all of the communities we serve throughout the pandemic to keep their water running and help them stay informed of the latest COVID-19 guidance.

A New Page for Water & Sanitation at Makunga Secondary School

The rain tank has the ability to collect 75,000 liters of water, providing a new source of safe, clean water on campus. Combined with the six new VIP latrines we built and the installation of two new handwashing facilities, we look forward to seeing all of these components work together to unlock these students' opportunities to live better, healthier lives.

The latrines will be divided by gender, three for the girls and three for the boys. All of these new latrines have cement floors 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.

How We Go From Ground to Rain Tank

Before schools closed, parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. Even after the children went home, the school team of kitchen staff and a few parents helped provide meals for the artisans while the school provided accommodations. Local women and men helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.

Brick delivery at the school

The process officially began with our staff and school administration looking around the school compound to 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.

Excavating the rain tank site

Then, we cleared the site by excavating the soil to make level ground for the tank foundation. We cast the foundation 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.

Pouring the tank's concrete foundation over a layer of stones

Next, we formed the walls using a skeleton of rebar and wire mesh with sugar sacks temporarily tied to the outside as backing. We attached this to the foundation’s edges so that the work team could start the Ferro-cementing process. They began layering the walls with cement, alternating with the inner and outer side, until six cement layers were in place. (The sugar sacks are removed once the interior receives its first two layers of cement.)

Wire tank walls covered in sugar sacks for temporary support

Inside the tank, we cast one central and four support pillars to ensure the dome does not cave in once cemented. Meanwhile, we plastered the inner wall while roughcasting the outer walls. We dug and plastered the access area to the tap outside of the tank, where we also installed a short staircase. In front of the access area, we constructed a soak pit where spilled water can drain from the access area through the ground. The pit helps to keep the tap area dry and tidy.

Casting the central support pillar

Dome construction could begin after the tank walls settled. We attached a dome skeleton of rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks to the tank walls before cementing and plastering it using similar techniques as the wall construction. We included a small manhole cover into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.

Plastering the pillars

We propper long wooden poles (about 75 of them!) inside the tank to support the dome while it cured. Then it was down to the finishing touches: fitting a lockable manhole cover over the tap area, affixing the gutters to the roof and tank, and setting an overflow pipe in place at the edge of the dome for when the tank reaches capacity.

Cutting the dome's wire form to size

Once finished, we gave the rain tank three to four weeks to undergo complete curing. Finally, we removed the interior support poles and dome sugar sacks and cleaned the tank.

Using water form the tank for curing

Thank you for helping to make this work possible - stay tuned for an update on training and the handing-over celebration!

October, 2020: Makunga Secondary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Makunga Secondary 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!

A Year Later: Students' Academic Performance Improved!

November, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Makunga 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!

"Water was so scarce, we used to come with water to school each morning, which was tiresome," said Cynthia, a 17-year-old student at Makunga.

Having clean water on the school campus has made a difference for her. "Getting water now is very easy since we just have to open the tap and water comes out."

"This has helped me to stay in class enough and wash my hands without any problem, especially during this time of COVID-19. I have been able to concentrate on my studies. I have improved my class performance."

This rain tank is enabling students of Makunga Secondary School like Cynthia to concentrate on learning and providing them the opportunity for a bright future.

Cynthia and her friends collect water from the rain tank.

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 Makunga 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 Makunga 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.


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