Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 326 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/02/2024

Project Features

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St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls Secondary School was founded in 2013 by the local Catholic church community, area leaders, and other community members. Their main goal was to take care of the "education of the girl child". Most members of the community here are very poor and live below the poverty line, hence they could not afford to send their children to boarding school. Starting with a population of 50 students, the school has since grown to its current group of 300 students and 26 teachers and staff.

The school is located in a quiet and peaceful area that is part rural, part urban. Buildings in the area are a mix of traditional mud walls and iron sheets, grass-thatched, and few modern houses. The area is characterized by gently sloping land with loamy clay soil, good for brickmaking. The main crop grown is maize.

The girls who attend St. Theresa's are considered to be a very vulnerable population. A majority of the pupils are either orphans, belong to single parents, or are being raised by their grandparents. These circumstances combined with the high prevalence of poverty often make the girls' education very difficult with so many hurdles to overcome. Not least of which is the fact that students still do not have sufficient access to clean and safe water.

The water crisis at St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls Secondary School means that students are forced to walk to an unprotected spring which they share with community members to fetch water. Piped water is also available for just several hours each week, though sometimes it does not turn on at all and the standpipe is not located on school grounds. The school does have a small plastic rain tank, but it can only collect up to 5,000 liters of water and is hardly sufficient for their needs.

Sometimes the need for water is so great, students will even fetch it from a shallow stream in the community, providing water that is muddy, open to surface runoff, animal manure, and all sorts of contaminants. The combination of all of these unreliable, distant, or unsafe water sources means that students here are suffering from missed class time while fetching water, and absenteeism due to waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea.

"As a girl child, my water requirements are high but are not adequately met by [the] unprotected spring and piped water. I spend more time looking for water, [and] that's affecting my study time," explained 17-year-old student Catherine.

The students are not the only ones affected.

"As the teacher on duty, I have to personally supervise the students as they go out of the school to fetch water. This interferes with my other duties and responsibilities at the school," said teacher Mr. Vincent Opalo.

The combination of students' missed class time and teachers' lack of prep time means that classes are not as productive, focused, or well-attended as they could be, hindering students' academic performance.

A typical day sees students arriving at school at 7:00 am to start cleaning the latrines, classrooms, and school compound. They go into morning classes until 10:00 am when they either have a 15-minute tea break or must go to the spring to fetch water. The trek to the spring takes much longer than the 15 minutes allotted, however, so on these days the students are often quite late for their next 2 lessons that run until 12:45 pm. At that point, they break for lunch up to 2:00 pm, when again some students may be sent to the spring to fetch water after eating. From 2:00 pm to 3:45 pm they have 2 more classes, followed by games.

The day ends at 4:30 pm unless they have run out of water again. In that case, students are sent yet again to fetch more water for the following day's drinking, cleaning, washing, and cooking. Then, it is time to go home before the cycle repeats the next morning.

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

There is currently just 1 handwashing station for teachers, but 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

The school has just 6 toilets that serve all 300 pupils. That means that on average, 1 toilet serves about 50 girls. More toilets will enhance convenience for the girls whose hygiene and sanitation requirements are unique compared to boys.

2 triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. 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: St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls Secondary School Project Complete!

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

St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls 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.

Students at the completed rain tank

"There is going to be a reduction in disease prevalence hence there will be saving on the cost of health care. I will have sufficient time for my academic work, thus leading to an improvement in my academic performance. There will be no more trips to the spring to fetch water," said pupil Grace.

Students get a fresh drink from the rain tank

Teachers, staff, and parents were just as excited as the students about the new rain tank on campus.

"The access to water by my pupils will ensure that they have sufficient time to concentrate on their studies, hence I expect that there will be improvement academically. Access to clean and safe drinking water will save me the cost of bringing in water from other sources," said Principal Mary Luvanda.

Reflecting on the future, Madam Luvanda added, "Clean water will be accessible to the girls. Incidences of waterborne diseases will be reduced significantly. The girls will have sufficient time for their academic work. Their performance academically will significantly improve. The water supply will be reliable."

The Board of Management Chair John Obaire also shared his thanks and thoughts upon the completion of the rain tank.

"As an individual source, the water will be of good quality. To the students, accessing clean and safe drinking water will give them sufficient time to concentrate on their studies. Incidences of waterborne diseases will be significantly reduced, and the supply of water to the school will be reliable. Given that the issue of the water supply has been addressed, I foresee a case where student enrollment will increase."

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.

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.

Rain tank skeleton sits ready for cement

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.

Community members help with interior cement work

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.)

Forming the interior support pillars

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. 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 and plaster 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.

Dome cement work

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.

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 St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls Secondary School.

As soon as it was ready, students and staff celebrated the presence of clean water on campus. Principal Mary Luvanda, the Parent-Teacher Association Chair Peter Lumbas, Board of Management Chair John Obaire, students, and parents all could not believe what they saw on the ground. Each group in turn expressed their appreciation for the project.

Student Aclein happy to have clean water at school

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.

Student Gladys raises a glass of clean water in thanks

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of 6 new ventilated improved pit 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.

Girls pose in front of a block of 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’ latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use.

Using and posing with a handwashing 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, facilitators Mary Afandi and Allan Amadaro deployed to the site.

Trainer Mary leads the day

20 students attended training in addition to the Parent-Teacher Association Chair, Peter Lumbas, and the Board of Management Chair, John Obaire. Due to the goodweather, training took place under a tree's shade outside of the classrooms. All of the participants in training were already leaders in the schools' Student Council, so the group was exceptionally focused and eager to learn and to lead.

Students take notes during training

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.

Group work session

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 for yourself what we've been up to more recently as we continue to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines in all of the communities we serve.

Dental hygiene session

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.

Learning the 10 steps of handwashing

The most memorable topic was the session on the proper maintenance of the rain tank, handwashing stations, and VIP latrines. According to the students, it was easier to maintain the new facilities than to continue getting water from the unprotected spring, so they were ready to dedicate themselves to the task. When they get water from the tank in the school compound, the safety of the water is guaranteed, pupils said.

Pupil Gladys leads the handwashing practical

"Indeed the training was valuable to me," said student Abigael.

"First, I appreciate the facilitators for the information. I learned many things that I didn't know. I have resolved to pay close attention to my individual hygiene and health, that of my family, and also my school. I will be keen to follow the 10 steps of handwashing. I will brush my teeth correctly. I will also make sure that the storage of water is done correctly."

Student Health Club President follows along in the handwashing demonstration

"The knowledge gained will help me maintain high standards of hygiene and sanitation both at school and at my home. I will practice the 10 steps of handwashing. I will pay close attention to my source of water and the storage of the same. I realize that by observing these hygiene and health practices, I will play a significant role in reduction of disease prevalence."

All eyes on student Gladys leading the 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: St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls Secondary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls 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!

Giving Update: St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls Secondary School

July, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped St. Teresa’s Isanjiro Girls Secondary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Sharon. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls 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!

It was hard and tiresome fetching water from the spring. We wasted a lot of time fetching water and this led to poor performance in class because we used to miss some lessons.

Since the water point was constructed, I've directed all my energy to classwork and not fetching water. My grades have improved and I can comfortably concentrate in class.

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 St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls 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 St. Teresa's Isanjiro Girls 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
16 individual donor(s)