Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 506 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/18/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

"My students are forced to carry water from their homes. On many occasions, they also go to the protected spring during the school day for more water. This interferes with their academic programs, hence bringing their performance down," explained the Deputy Head Teacher at Friends School Mahira Primary, Mrs.Margaret Mikisi.

There is no water at Mahira Primary for its 490 students and 16 teachers and staff. Founded in 1956 by the Friends Church, there has always been a severe water crisis at this school.

"We have suffered for a long time," reflected Chair of the Parent-Teachers Association Mr. Peter Lumnasi.

Students are asked to bring water from home every morning when they come to school. Then, when that water runs out during the school day, they must walk to a spring in the village which is also shared with community members. Adults are frustrated with the students' presence at the spring, and make the pupils wait to fetch water until they are done. The process is lengthy and tiresome, leaving students zapped of energy when they should be energetic and ready to learn. Their academic performance is, understandably, suffering.

Students at this school already have many challenges to overcome to successfully complete their education. Most of the pupils' families are living in poverty. Many students come to school without shoes, and some are being raised by grandparents in the absence of their parents. With so much else to focus on, the last thing they should be worrying about is whether and how they will have water at school, yet this is their daily reality.

With water being sourced from so many different places, the quality and safety of it comes into question; because the water is combined for use into plastic storage drums at school, even 1 contaminated source means everyone suffers.

The sanitation and hygiene situation at Mahira Primary is wanting. With just 4 latrines each for girls and boys, most are almost full and all of them are overcrowded. They are also not regularly cleaned due to the lack of water. It is a vicious cycle that perpetuates water-related diseases, especially without enough water for handwashing.

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

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 School Mahira Primary Project Complete!

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

Friends School Mahira Primary 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.

A pupil fetches water from the new rain tank

"Initially, I used to carry water from home, but now I have reliable, safe, and clean water. Academically, I will improve because I was wasting my time meant for learning to go and look for water," said young teenage student Brilliant.

When asked what some of her hopes and goals were both personally and for her school following the implementation of this project, Brilliant said, "Cleanliness of toilets will be done daily. After visiting the toilet I will wash my hands and I will improve academically. Generally, hygiene and sanitation standards will improve."

Students and teachers pose with the rain tank

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

"I want to thank God through your team who remembered us this year. I am happy for the water tank, which will help to access safe and reliable water. Pupils will not waste time looking for water. The pupils will now have sufficient time to concentrate on their academic work. God willing I expect their performance in academics to improve," said Board of Management Chair Silvester Abuyeka.

Board of Management Chair Silvester Abuyeka

"In addition, access to sufficient water will enable the general cleanliness and hygienic standards at the school to improve. There is going to be enough water for handwashing, cleaning of toilets, and to supply to water to the handwashing facilities."

"I know the population of the school will increase [because of these facilities]. There will be an improvement in performance academically, and access to sufficient water will be enhanced."

Rain Tank

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

Before schools closed in Kenya due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 bring water for construction

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 foundation work

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.

Community members held the artisan mix and pour the concrete for the rain tank's 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.)

Students look on as a team fits the wire tank form over the foundation

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.

Interior cement, plaster, and pillar work underway

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.

Knitting the plastic sacks to the dome's wire form

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.

Dome and access area work

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 Mahira Primary.

Working on dome cement

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.

A student takes a fresh drink 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 and a teacher stand in front of the 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.

Boys pose 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.

Handwashing with a new 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 Betty Majani and Mary Afandi deployed to the site.

20 students attended training, which was held under the trees within the school compound. The location was very good for training. In addition to the students, the school's Board of Management Chair, Parent-Teacher Association Chair, and the Headmaster attended the training.

Lots of active participation from the students during a session with Trainer Mary

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 Betty holds out a tray of ash for a student to try handwashing with this locally available soap alternative

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.

Students try out the new handwashing station

"Today I have learned unique topics which will help me in my future life and my people in school and at home. The most interesting topic was teenage and early pregnancy. I have learned as a boy to be focused and prioritize my life by not causing girls to suffer by causing them to drop out of school. Thanks for the knowledge you brought for us today," said young teenager Gideon.

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!

April, 2020: Friends School Mahira Primary Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Friends School Mahira Primary 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 Mahira Primary

July, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped Friends School Mahira Primary in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Priscilla. 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 Mahira Primary.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Friends School Mahira Primary 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!

"The lack of clean and safe water really contributed to poor performance at school. We spent much time on water collection.

Collecting water is now easier, and enough water is available, which saves time. This has contributed to improvement in academic and hygiene standards at the school. I am achieving my dreams academically and in athletic activities," said Priscilla. a 14-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 Mahira Primary 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 Mahira Primary – 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.


Fishing Creek Baptist Church
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Souther New Jersey
GE Foundation
Hatch's Quick Stop
East Coast Water
Vernon and De'Rion
Charities Aid Foundation
Positive Frequency
Ally Financial
Jonny Blockchain
West Chester Friends Meeting/Concord Quarter Campaign for Water
61 individual donor(s)