Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 647 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2021

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 06/06/2024

Project Features

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Please note, original photos were taken before the pandemic.

In 1981, the Isango community established their first primary school under their own name. It began as a community school with just a few classrooms, but after the school registered with the government, the school was able to build more classes. The Anglican Church sponsors Isango Primary providing spiritual support for the school.

Today, the school has 9 classrooms and the county government has donated 1 classroom dedicated to early childhood development education. Their own block is currently under construction. The Isango Primary School compound has good scenery with mango trees near the classrooms and rocks that give the compound a beautiful view.

For the 647 students and staff on campus, their only source of water is a small plastic rain tank - just 5,000-liters capacity -  that quickly and regularly goes dry. The dry tank forces the pupils to go fetch water from a spring about 500 meters away in the village.

To get to the spring, pupils must cross a busy road followed by a narrow footpath between people's sugar cane plantations. This route is dangerous for the students, especially when they have to go fetch water early in the morning. As a result, pupils need their teachers to accompany them to the spring, wasting a lot of both groups' productive time that would otherwise be invested in syllabus coverage.

"The pupils are always insecure, especially when they are going to fetch water very early in the morning. With the place where the spring is located, I personally do fear for their safety," said Headteacher Mr. Chrisantus Makana.

"We are just forced to allow them to get water for the school program to continue running."

Once at the spring, the safety of the water comes into question, too. There are farming activities around the spring, with chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in the immediate area. These could be seeping into the groundwater. But even if the spring water were safe, the pupils' unwashed containers and hands contaminate the water they collect, leading to water-related illnesses back at school.

The amount of learning time the students miss is high due to the combination of trips to the spring and absenteeism driven by waterborne illnesses. If the water from the morning trip runs out, pupils are sent back to the spring with a teacher mid-day to fetch more water.

"Sometimes we go to fetch water during class time, and this affects the syllabus coverage. We delay finishing our syllabus which affects the school performance negatively," said teenage student Kelvin.

Pupils report frequent cases of typhoid and amoeba. Some students come to school tired and are unable to concentrate in class from their early morning trek for water. Many have headaches from carrying heavy jerrycans to and from the spring. Others feel fatigued while in class due to a lack of drinking water because the water they fetch has to be highly rationed and prioritized for cooking school meals.

Because of the lack of water in school, pupils will some days avoid school altogether for fear of being told to go fetch water from the spring. Some even go home when they are told to go fetch water, skipping their afternoon lessons. There are also frequent conflicts with farmers in the area, because sometimes the pupils interfere with the sugarcane on the path to the spring.

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

There are far too few latrines for the number of students at this school.

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: Isango Primary School Project Complete!

We have exciting news!

Students and teachers finally arrived back in class at Isango Primary 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 and washing their hands, and the chair of the school board gave a speech of thanks and appreciation on behalf of the entire school for all who helped make the project possible.

Field Officer Julius (left) hands over the project to the school.

"I will not waste time looking for water and will concentrate on my studies. I will be able to pass my exams since I will have time to study and I will have water to drink," said student Lucy.

A student enjoys water from the rain tank.

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

"No more water-related diseases for me since the rainwater is good. The students will save time as they will have water in school. Hygiene and sanitation will greatly improve. No more conflict with the community when fetching water as they now have water in school and increased local handwashing points," said teacher Geoffrey Murunga.

Students 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, Team Leader Emmah Nambuye along with trainers David Muthama and Julius Mwarema set out to lead the training.

20 students and teachers attended training, which we held outside under the shade of trees. We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics.

Team Leader Emmah kicks off the 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.

Trainer David leads the handwashing session.

During the governance session, we were impressed to learn that the students had already chosen one classmate to represent the administration's student voice on important matters as they came up. The students then elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club, adding to their on-campus student leadership. 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.

Handwashing practice

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.


Oral hygiene was a memorable topic when a student named Quinter insisted that she brushes her teeth three times every day, including after lunch at school. Another student, Victor, challenged her, saying it was only practical to brush teeth at home after breakfast and dinner. The facilitators encouraged brushing at least twice a day but said that if the students wanted to brush a third time, it would only add to their dental hygiene.

Girls pose in thanks for their new latrines.

Student Vincent said the training would help him "observe hygiene and sanitation, especially since we now have water in the school. I am happy."

Boys pose at their new latrines.

Quinter, who became the newly elected student president of the health club, also found value in training. She said she would now "be able to keep away Corona from my friends and me here in school and at home."

Quinter said that while she was home, she "was very sad because I could not study by myself and I needed a teacher to assist me." She voiced concerns over children spreading the virus when they do not wear masks. "I wish it could end."

Out of school, Quinter said she "missed my subjects, the school teachers, and my friends." Now back in school, she is "very happy because I am looking forward to becoming a candidate during the year to get to high school."

"We have handwashing stations with soap, and we are encouraged to come with masks to school and wear them always," Quinter said, explaining how her school is adapting to teaching during a pandemic.

A student gets a drink from the rain tank.

Quinter said she will now add a few items to her personal prevention checklist after training, emphasizing mask-wearing and more frequent handwashing.

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.

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!

December, 2020: Construction Complete at Isango Primary School; Training Scheduled for 2021

Construction of the rain tank and VIP latrines at Isango Primary School is now complete!

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 Isango Primary 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.

The complete rain tank at Isango Primary School

The Kenyan government plans to fully reopen all schools in January 2021, when we plan to train students and teachers on COVID-19 prevention, handwashing, and how to take care of their new rain tank and latrines. 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. Upon their opening, we will treat the water in every school rain tank to ensure a fresh supply of drinking water for the returning pupils.

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 January, 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 complete block of VIP latrines

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 Isango Primary 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

Even after 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.

A student delivers rocks to the rain tank construction site for the artisan's use

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.

Laying the tank's foundation

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.

Sugar sacks tied to wire wall skeleton

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.)

Interior cement and plasterwork

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.

Exterior plasterwork

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.

Fitting the dome to the tank walls

We propped 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 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.

Dome and drawing point under construction

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.

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

November, 2020: Isango Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Isango 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 Videos

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: More Time and Better Academic Performance!

January, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Isango Primary 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!

13-year-old Brenda A. recalled what it used to be like to acquire water before Isango Primary School received its rain tank. "It was difficult because the water source was far from school. We wasted a lot of time in fetching water."

But now, with a source of reliable, clean, and safe water right on school grounds, Brenda is a better student and does not have to waste time searching for water. "It has helped me to be in class at the right time [and] to achieve good performance in school."

With ready access to clean water giving Brenda time to study and focus on her schooling, the future has lots of possibilities for her.

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 Isango Primary 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 Isango Primary 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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