Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 504 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - May 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/10/2024

Project Features

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"This school urgently needs a reliable source of water so we can keep the pupils in school, instead of them spending time looking for water," said Head Teacher of St. Michael Mukongolo Primary School, Mr. Benson Mutende.

There is no water at this school for its 490 students and 14 teachers and staff, which has been the case since the institution was established in 1990 by the Catholic Church. Each day, pupils are required to bring water from home to start the school day. Then, when the water runs out, they are sent to a protected spring in the village that is shared with community members.

The walk to the spring takes students - typically girls - through sugar plantations, which are notoriously risky as the dense crop can easily conceal people inches from the path. Because of their concern for the students' safety, teachers are required to accompany the students to the spring each time. The process is time-consuming and tiresome for everyone involved and takes away precious class time. This daily chore, combined with the early morning walk from home carrying water, means students are often too tired to focus in class and their academic performance is suffering accordingly.

The distance of the school's water sources is not the only trouble with them. The safety and quality of the water students collect is uncertain since they collect it from various sources in the morning. Their containers are not always clean either, so clean water can instantly be contaminated once they fetch it. Because the water is combined for use at school, even 1 contaminated source means everyone suffers. Waterborne illnesses are a common driver of absenteeism here, further hurting the students' success.

The sanitation and hygiene situation here is also wanting.

"This school has few latrines which are not enough to match the school's population," said teacher Mrs. Gaudencia Khakai.

Without enough water to properly clean the latrines or for washing hands after using them, there is a vicious cycle of water-related diseases among the school population.

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

May, 2020: St. Michael Mukongolo Primary School Project Complete!

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

St. Michael Mukongolo Primary 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.

A student smiles while getting a fresh drink from the rain tank

"Sometimes we would go looking for water during class time, which would take a lot of time because we used the same spring with community members. Now I am glad we have reliable and safe water. I will concentrate on my studies and pass my examination," said student David, who is a candidate for the national education examinations this year.

Striking a pose while fetching a drink from the rain tank

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

"First of all, I want to thank God for the facilities. Initially, pupils were bringing water from home, which was not safe for consumption. Now I am happy I have reliable, safe water at the school," said Head Teacher Edward Mutende.

"Now that we have reliable water, the pupils will not waste time looking for water, and they will concentrate on their studies and academics. We will achieve high grades."

Head Teacher Edward Mutende at the rain tank with pupils

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.

Parents of students helped deliver locally available materials for construction, including water for mixing cement.

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.

Community members volunteering as laborers helping to sift sand

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.

Outer walls temporarily lined with sugar sacks

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.)

Working on interior walls and pillar cement

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.

Interior plasterwork dries

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.

Exterior plasterwork

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.

Pupils helped carry the long wooden poles inserted to support the tank's dome while drying

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. Michael Mukongolo Primary School.

Tying sugar sacks to wire for dome skeleton while pupils play during a break from classes

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.

Pupils celebrate the new 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 stand 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.

Boys pose with big smiles 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.


Girls with Head Teacher Mutende and 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.

A boy uses a handwashing station

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the school Head Teacher Edward Mutende, 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, lead facilitator Mary Afandi deployed to the site with a team of trainers.

Trainer Mary walks students through the project's water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) objectives at training

20 students attended training, which was held outside under the shade thanks to the trees on the school's compound. The pupils had high expectations and an eagerness to learn, contributing to the strong turnout and level of participation throughout the training.

A facilitator gives a talk on life skills 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.

Students show off their short nails as they hold out their hands to mimic the 10 steps of 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.

Trainer Carolyne walks students through the 10 handwashing steps

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.

Students take turns practicing and teaching the handwashing steps with a new handwashing station

Covering all of the water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) Objectives at the beginning of the training was particularly memorable to the trainers as the pupils were shocked to learn that our team routinely builds such big rain tanks and latrines at schools all over Kenya. The topics on the maintenance of the new water and sanitation facilities was also special because the pupils said they had learned a lot of things which they would use at their homes.

Girls pose in front of their new latrines

"The training was valuable to me. The knowledge I have gained I will use it also at home and any place I will be," said student Rose.

Boys smile in front of their new latrines

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: St. Michael Mukongolo Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Michael Mukongolo Primary 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. Michael Mukongolo Primary School

July, 2021

A year ago, your generous donation helped St. Michael Mukongolo Primary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Khakai Kaudesia. 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. Michael Mukongolo Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Michael Mukongolo Primary 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!

Khakai Kaudesia, a teacher, shared what life was like before the new rainwater tank was complete, "As a school, we faced challenges concerning access to clean, safe water. Our pupils would carry water from home daily, which made them come to school late when they should have attended morning lessons. The hygiene standards were poor, with no cleaning on a daily basis. There was no food for pupils and absenteeism hence slow syllabus coverage."

Now that the school has enjoyed having the rainwater tank for the past year, he commented, "We can now access clean water on time. There is no more carrying water from home and minimal absenteeism. We do finish our syllabus coverage on time, and this has resulted in a good performance. The school is progressing well in development activities."

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. Michael Mukongolo Primary 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. Michael Mukongolo Primary 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.


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