Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 215 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/09/2024

Project Features

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Sawawa Secondary School was opened in 2014 by the Salvation Army Church. Today, it hosts 200 students and 15 teachers and staff, yet they still face a severe clean water shortage every day.

The main water source for this school is a hand-dug well without a handpump on campus. To fetch water, students lower a bucket on a rope down into the well, submerge it, then pull it back up and pour the water into their personal containers. In addition to this process being time-consuming and tiresome, there are several problems with this well water, not least of which is its seasonality. During the dry season, the water dries up and students are forced to look for water elsewhere in the community, leaving school grounds and wasting precious school time in their search.

"Due to the seasonality of the partially protected well, I am forced to skip some lessons in search of water. The water is also not conducive for consumption as it is not clean," said student Simon.

Teachers reported that most students have complained of ailments brought about by drinking the dirty well water. Typhoid, diarrhea, and stomachaches are the key water-related diseases in the school. These cause students to miss class, and it costs the school and their families greatly in paying for their medication and doctor visits.

"As the head of the school, since the well water is not safe for consumption I am forced to always buy drinking water for myself. Sometimes I am forced to drink the water just like my students and this always ends with stomachache and diarrhea," said Head Teacher Mr. Clarance Elijah.

Unfortunately for the students, buying water is not an option because it is too costly.

The only other source of water the school relies on - even during the rainy season when the well has water - is students bringing water from home. Some students are lucky enough to collect water from home, though this depletes their families' water for the day. Other students must go out and fetch water while it is still dark if they are to make it to their first class at 6:40 am.

In either case, the long walk to school hauling their water saps their energy. Many pupils arrive at school already too tired to focus, negatively affecting their academic performance which is made worse by their absenteeism when they get sick from the water.

Though some of the water sources students use from home may produce clean and safe water, their containers are not always clean. Because the water is combined for use, including the well water, even 1 contaminated source means everyone suffers.

This school has already identified all of the locally available materials needed to construct the proposed rain tank and latrines, and the students and teachers said they are "committed to fully support the project 100%."

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 currently in use at this school are overcrowded, dirty, and not up to standard.

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

March, 2020: Sawawa Secondary School Project Complete!

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

Sawawa 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.

Entire student health club along with staff celebrating the rain tank

"Initially I used to suffer a lot whenever I consumed the well-drawn water. Sometimes I could miss class lessons due to being sick," recalled pupil Anabel.

"The presence of clean water and sanitation will definitely improve on my health, allowing better achievement of my targeted goals in school. Achieving better academic performance among each student are great plans for the school," she said.

Anabel gives a thumbs up for clean water from the tank

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

"Presence of reliable, safe water in this school will significantly improve the health standards of all beneficiaries, thus curbing water-related diseases like typhoid and cholera. Absentiseem will be a past issue, allowing students to concentrate more on their studies thus leading to better academic performance. Total concentration on the studies will be enhanced leading to timely syllabus coverage," said teacher Mr. Clarence Ogode.

Teachers pose 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.

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.

Laying stones on excavated tank foundation site

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.

Fitting the metal wall skeleton to the foundatin

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.)

Artisan cements interior tank walls

Inside the tank, 1 central and 4 support pillars were cast to ensure the dome does not fall down 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.

Plastering the pillars inside the tank

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.

Community members help sew sugar sacks to the dome's wire skeleton

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.

Cementing the dome

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 Sawawa Secondary School.

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.

Pupil John collects water from the rain tank

VIP Latrines

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

Girls pose in front of their new VIP latrines with a handwashing station

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 celebrate their new VIP latrines and handwashing station

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, 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 Jacklyne and Patience deployed to the site.

Some 15 students and 3 parents attended training, which was held inside a classroom and then outside for practicals. We expected a total of 20 participants but 2 of the invited parents were unable to attend due to personal constraints. The venue was spacious to comfortably accommodate all of the participants. The class was well lit and ventilated enough, allowing for enough fresh air and making it conducive for the training.

Sanitation teacher addresses the students along with Facilitator Jacklyne at 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.

Overseeing the election of the student health club leaders

During the nomination and election process for the student health club, all the students interested in running for positions opted for the post of president. It was difficult in choosing the ideal candidate, students said, but we also felt it was motivating to know how many of the young ones want to nurture their leadership skills at a tender age.

Learning the 10 steps of handwashing using a new handwashing station

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.

Pupils learn the parts and care of the rain tank in the Operations and Maintenance training practical led by Trainer Jacklyne

Operation and maintenance was a key topic that was particularly memorable, our team thought. A majority of the students had recurring questions on the best ways to ensure the installed facilities were well taken care of. One pupil named Hillary made everyone laugh when he requested the school to give him the mandate of punishing whoever is found vandalizing the facilities or going astray as per the rules laid down concerning the care of the project. Though she was joking, everyone was feeling excited about upholding the highest standards to ensure the longevity of their rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations.

Students learn how to safely clean the rain tank's gutters

"Knowledge is power. Today's training was quite enriching and it has exposed me to new and important information that will go a long way in improving my health standards, thus leading to better academic performance," said the same student Hillary.

Students Anabel and Christine unite over clean water

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!

February, 2020: Sawawa Secondary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Sawawa 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: Sawawa Secondary School

July, 2021

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Sawawa 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!

"As a student of this school, I had faced challenges concerning access to clean and safe water. This resulted in me coming late to school due to the burden of carrying water. The water we collected was not enough for the entire school; hence we could not achieve our standards of hygiene. Access to clean water has enhanced my academic time with no missed lessons or absences. Academically I will achieve and face my future without fear. I also frequently do our manual cleaning, and the hygiene standards have improved," said Latifa, 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 Sawawa 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 Sawawa 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 - Blanke Foundation