Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 176 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/02/2024

Project Features

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"The school is in a bad state and most of us are not accessing clean and safe water. We are suffering from waterborne diseases after using the unsafe water."

This is the simple yet powerful evaluation of her school's current situation by teacher Mrs. Damaris Nashimiyu at Friends Secondary School Shirugu. Here, this is just 1 water source - a well - on school grounds that does not provide enough water, let alone safe water, for the 160 students and 16 teachers and staff.

To fetch water from the well, students must stand over the slippery cement pad surrounding the opening, lower a bucket on a rope into the water, and haul it back up. The water is then poured into their own containers before carrying these back to the school buildings. There is also a plastic storage drum that the students will fill at the well, then using a team of 6-8 students slug back to the center of campus. This process is tiresome and time-consuming. Looking down into the well, we noted dirty objects floating on the surface of the water - not a good sign when evaluating the safety of the water.

When the well runs dry, students are sent out between classes and during lunch to fetch water from an unprotected spring down in the village. This water is open to contamination and known for causing diseases. These trips waste a lot of precious school time and often make students too tired to pay attention in class once they get back.

Many students contract infections through the water they consume at school, impacting their families since they must use the little resources they may have in seeking medical treatment for their children. Waterborne illnesses drive absenteeism, and with it drag down students' academic performance.

The water shortage at this school also means that students' hygiene and sanitation are wanting. Water has to be prioritized for drinking, so healthy habits like handwashing and important chores like cleaning the latrines have to be put on hold.

"Really the school is in need of water to avoid the problems of stomachaches and time wastage among students. Secondly, students are missing classes when they contract diseases caused by dirty water," said teacher Mr. James Malenya.

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 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 latrines at Friends Secondary School Shirugu are in rough shape. Some of them cannot ensure privacy to users because they lack doors, while others have leaking roofs. All of them are producing a very bad odor.

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

April, 2020: Friends Secondary School Shirugu Project Complete!

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

Friends Secondary School Shirugu 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 pose with Field Officer Victor Musemi (squatting) to celebrate the newly completed rain tank

"It's now a new dawn in our lives. We will no longer suffer from diseases that are caused by lack of clean water, and economically we will grow and this will lead to a low rate of poverty," said student Fridah.

"In the past, I have been wasting time, but now I will get time to read and improve my academics and my health. Even the development of programs will be more easily achieved compared with the past."

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

"There will be no long starvation of water thus saving use of expenses in buying water. I would thank God and the WaSH team for the idea of saving the lives of many people by ensuring we access clean and safe water. This will give us time to read and improve on our academics. Secondly, development will occur in school and more finances will not be spent on buying water," said Deputy Head Teacher Moses Kisiangani.

Deputy Head Teacher Moses Kisiangani poses formally with the rain tank

Rain Tank

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

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.

Students help carry stones to the construction site

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.

Excavating the site for the rain tank's 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. Both the drawing pipe as well as the drainage pipe were affixed as the foundation was laid.

Laying stones on rain tank foundation

Next, the walls were formed using a skeleton of rebar and wire mesh with sugar sacks temporarily tied to the outside as backing. This 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. (The sugar sacks are removed once the interior receives its first 2 layers of cement.)

Cementing the walls begins inside the tank against the wire and sugar sack skeleton

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

Casting the 5 internal support pillars

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.

Passing cement to the artisan on the dome

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 Friends Secondary School Shirugu.

Student Bella enjoying a cup of fresh water from the rain tank

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.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of 6 new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, half for girls and half for boys. All of these new latrines have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and clean. And with a rain tank right on school property, there should be enough water to keep them clean.

Boys shake hands in unity in front of their 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.

Girls using a handwashing station in front of their new latrines

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, facilitator Victor Musemi deployed to the site.

21 students attended training, which was held outside since the weather was nice that day. 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.

Students at training vote for their peers to lead the health club

Leadership and governance was a particularly memorable topic as a majority of the students were not aware of the qualities of a good leader. Through the training session, the group became able to define leadership and could mention the characteristics of good leaders. To top off the session, a young girl managed to win one of the positions in the student health club by a big margin, impressing her classmates who clearly saw her potential as a good leader.

Student Lydia leads the group in the 10 steps of handwashing

The student health 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 pupil demonstrates good toothbrushing technique during the dental hygiene portion of training

"Knowledge is power. I can now share more skills with the rest of the school and even the community which I come from. It will also empower others and even change the standard of the school improvement in terms of academics and hygiene," said pupil Elvis.

Student Elvis (right) smiles while demonstrating handwashing next to a facilitator at training

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!

March, 2020: Friends Secondary School Shirugu Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Friends Secondary School Shirugu 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 Secondary School Shirugu

July, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Shirugu Friends 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!

Fetching water from the well was not easy. Pulling the water up from the well drained all our energy which sometimes made us sleep during class hours instead of studying. I hated going to school because of fetching water. This made me miss most of the lessons, and as a result, I used to not perform well.

I enjoy school now because anytime I feel thirsty I just run to the tank, open the tap and there is water. I have enough time to study compared to when we used to pull water up from the well.

I now have my personal timetable to follow during my free time. All the time I used to waste is now being used to do other beneficial research in my studies.

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 Shirugu Friends 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 Shirugu Friends 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.