Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 94 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/16/2024

Project Features

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Friends School Vashele Secondary was founded in 2009 by a joint effort of community members and the government to offer an educational option for students who could not afford boarding school. Once hosting as many as 200 students, today the school has just 80 students and 14 teachers and staff due to more schools opening in the area over the years. The one thing that has not changed for Vashele Secondary, however, is their need for water; there is no water source on school grounds.

Instead, the secondary students must walk to the primary school which has a borehole well. In addition to the nearly 1,000 primary school students and staff, this well is also shared with community members who frequently harass and scramble with the older students for coming to the well. This means long lines - and a lot of wasted time - for the secondary students as they wait their turn for water every day. Students must then lug their water back to campus, where the only water storage available is a small plastic drum in the kitchen. This time-consuming and tiring routine interrupts the students' daily class schedule and takes their precious learning time away.

During one of our first visits to this school, we were surprised to notice that at one building there was a well-placed gutter, but no storage tank below it. Upon inquiring, we were told the contractor who constructed one of the classrooms had installed the gutter for harvesting rainwater that he used in construction. After the work was over, he removed his plastic tank but left the guttering. The school has not been able to come up with another storage container aside from the small one in the kitchen, where students pour their collected water each day for combined use.

Though the water drawn from the well is clean and safe for drinking, poor handling means it is often contaminated by the time it reaches students' and teachers' mouths. This happens when students accidentally dip their fingers into it while carrying their containers back to campus, or because their containers were dirty from the start. With just 2 handwashing stations on campus but not enough water to consistently fill them, students are often left with no choice but to go without handwashing and risk contaminating their own food, water, and spreading diseases.

Deputy Principal Mr. Wycliffe Wanjala Jotham reported that some students have been complaining of typhoid and coughing since joining the school. And the problem is not just among students.

"I have tested positive for typhoid as a result of consuming water at school. It made me miss my school lessons for a day when I had gone to seek for medication," said teacher Mr. Moses Litoro Shihalo. Absenteeism of both students and their teachers affects learning and poses a challenge to students' academic success.

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 are currently just 2 handwashing stations for students to use after visiting the latrines or before eating lunch, but not always enough 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.


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: Friends School Vashele Secondary Project Complete!

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

Friends School Vashele Secondary 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 high-five over the completion of their new rain tank

"Personally, I am sure I will not be missing coming to school because of the safe water from this known source," rejoiced pupil Sarah referring to the rain tank.

"I will also have enough time for studies since I will no longer have to go for water outside the school compound. The time spent between teachers and students will increase, translating to better performance of the school and to each an individual student. Now that the time wastage is minimal or nonexistent, I will utilize that time to get good grades."

Student Sarah

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

"Water here has been a challenge before; our students had to go to wash their plates in a borehole in a primary section. This amounted to time wastage because of the long queues at the borehole as the borehole is also used by the community members," said sanitation teacher Raphael Wanja.

Sanitation Teacher Raphael Wanja

"Access to reliable, safe water will impact my life greatly. One, I will be sure of the source of water I am using. Secondly, I will have a lot of time to interact with my students and that will mean covering the syllabus on time and good performance for my students in the long run. I will know areas that need more attention from me and I will be able to tackle it within the stipulated time."

"I have also learned the importance of water conservation. It was not until you constructed this huge rainwater harvesting tank that I realized the need on my side. It has pushed me to have a plastic tank at my home for harvesting water to at least save on time and energy wastage going for water at a distant place."

Students first bump to celebrate the new water source

"Also, hygiene and sanitation in the school will be greatly improved. Being a sanitation teacher, the availability of water will ensure good hygiene practices in school are adhered to."

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 students at this school also put in a considerable amount of work, helping the artisans during the practical sessions of their training.

Artisans help gather and cut wooden poles to size for tank supports

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.

Students help carry bricks to school for construction

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.

Excavation of the rain tank site

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.)

Cement work begins inside the tank

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.

Pillar work inside the tank

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.

Students helped with cementing, brickwork, and framing during their practical sessions of training, among other skills; Trainer Jonathan Mutai stands on left

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.

Students mix cement

A small manhole cover was built into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.

Dome construction

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.

Roughcasting the outer tank walls

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 Friends School Vashele Secondary.

Student Moses splashes water at the tank celebration

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.

Students enjoy fresh drinks from the tank

The school principal Mr. Atsango was very happy with the new WASH facilities, saying it has greatly facelifted the school. More so, he is optimistic that come next year, the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations will attract a number of students to join the school.

VIP Latrines

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

Girls with their new 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.

A student poses with the new 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.


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.


New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school principal and sanitation teacher Mr. Raphael Wanja, 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 Jonathan Mutai and Wilson Kipchoge deployed to the site.

Sanitation Teacher Raphael Wanja (left) and students attend training

28 students ranging from Forms 1-4 attended training, which was done in one of the classrooms. Mr. Wanja also attended. The venue was well ventilated and spacious enough to accommodate all of the participants who had been selected.

Pupils take notes at training

We were expecting about 20 students but it turned a number of Form 4 students were able to attend the training too. They said they wanted to leave a legacy in the school that during their time, the WASH facilities were implemented in the school. Also, they wanted to learn about hygiene so as to be good ambassadors of hygiene practices not only at the school but also in their community.

Pupil Sarah demonstrates toothbrushing

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.

Trainer Jonathan demonstrates how to use a leaky tin for handwashing

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.

Handwashing demonstration with Jonathan

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.

A student leads other pupils in the 10 handwashing steps

One of the most memorable topics was the operations and maintenance of the new facilities. The participants were asked to mention how the rain tank's guttering can be kept clean. One participant who wanted to answer was not able to speak, but she was able to demonstrate it using sign language and motions.

Students learn the parts and maintenance of the rain tank while it is under construction during training

Another special topic was teenage pregnancy. At first, the students felt the topic should not have been part of the day's learning as some were embarrassed and others did not see its relevance or importance to them as an individual. The facilitator made sure to take the time to explain that the issue is one for everyone to discuss and help prevent, as all people know a girl whether she is a friend, sister, or neighbor. After taking much time to shed light on the topic, the students admitted to seeing the importance of covering the topic.

Mr. Wanja, students, and Trainer Jonathan pose for a photo taken by Trainer Wilson

"The training was of great value to me. I learned a lot about sanitation and hygiene. Our hands truly are our lives because whatever we touch, like chemicals or dirt, if not washing our hands well it will impact us negatively. Today, I have learned to be more conscious in whatever I do and I will have a duty to make a leaky tin at my home to aid my family in practicing good hygiene always," said pupil Victor.

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: Friends School Vashele Secondary Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Friends School Vashele Secondary 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: Friends School Vashele Secondary

July, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Friends School Vashele Secondary 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!

"Getting water was a big problem because we used to fetch water from a borehole at the primary school, and this aroused a lot of conflicts. We didn't have enough water for consumption and usage.

Now it is easy, and I have enough time for studies, and this has changed my performance because I don't strain to go to the primary school to fetch water. We have peace with our neighbouring primary school.

I am not exposed to waterborne diseases and am healthy and happy," said Mary, an 18-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 Friends School Vashele Secondary 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 Friends School Vashele Secondary – 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