Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 381 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 01/10/2024

Project Features

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Please note: original photos were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the daily reality for the 365 students and 16 teachers and staff at St. Peters Bwanga Primary School, as reported by Teacher Mr. Nicholas Yasisi.

"Every day I get a case about a student who is in pain or is experiencing diarrhea as a result of consuming dirty water. It is most common in the Early Childhood Development class, and it has really worried the parents. We tried talking to the children to only drink boiled water, but some of them don't listen and sometimes there isn't enough of it."

There is not a single source of water at this school. Every day, students trek to 3 different yet dirty sources of water for all of the drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. The main source is a muddy stream, the second an unprotected spring, and the third simply a make-shift collection point for run-off water from a hill after it rains. No source is safe for drinking.

The main source, a stream from the nearby slopes, passes through the homes of several people. The water itself appears milky and has sand particles in it as it is quite shallow at the place where students can collect it. The unprotected spring carries similar characteristics as it is not clear and has large moss plants growing in it. The other surface water passes through multiple sugarcane plantations, carrying with it all of the chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides from the crops.

This water is the result of water seepage from the ground at various points before it channels through the farms into the small stream and out of a makeshift banana leaf pipe, where the students collect it.

While the school kitchen staff tries to boil all of the water before students drink it, there is not always enough firewood or time to do so. And even when some water is boiled, it runs out before everyone can get a drink. Thus, the dirty water is consumed untreated anyway and leads to high rates of waterborne diseases among students.

"We always have to wait for the water to be boiled for us to take it. We are many [in number] and water that is boiled is not enough to quench all of us. Also, sometimes it is still too hot to drink," explained student Janet.

With students arriving at 7:00 am and not going home until 5:00 pm, the students are called upon and sent out of school to get water whenever there is a need. Typically, that means several times a day. Each walk to fetch water is tiring and time-consuming, and students arrive back in school already too tired to focus. Their performance is hurting when they miss significant portions of their lessons, and the situation is intensified when they are kept out of school by their water-related illnesses.

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 to unlock the potential 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.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

All primary and secondary schools are currently closed in Kenya due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are scheduled to reopen in January 2021. Once classes resume, we will schedule a training session with students, teachers, and parents. This intensive training will cover a wide range of topics including COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention; personal and environmental hygiene; and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a special emphasis on handwashing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train, including participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, and asset-based community development. We will initiate a 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 including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Project Updates

January, 2021: St. Peters Bwanga Primary School Project Complete!

St. Peters Bwanga 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 the school on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention. These components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Students make a splash to celebrate the new rain tank

"Now, I will not have to worry about being chased by dogs when going to fetch water. It will be nice also to leave my container at home," said student Patience.

"We have been taught proper handwashing, and I think the rain tank will be able to help us clean more often. At least our afternoon classes will go on as pupils will be in class and not out fetching water."

Enjoying water from the rain tank

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

"Access to the water will ease my life. Students used to be getting in and out of class all the time with the excuse of going to get water, which has led to various complaints by their parents. But now, once in school, they will stay there throughout the day," said Fredrick Nambwa, the school's security guard.

School security guard Mr. Fredrick Nambwa

"We have been planning to raise a nice kitchen garden for the school, a fence, and a few flowerbeds. With the waterpoint already in school, we will be able to do that now," Fredrick added.

Girls pose at the rain tank

How We Go From Ground to Rain Tank

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

Parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. The school’s kitchen staff and a few parents helped provide meals for the artisans, while the school provided the artisans’ accommodations. Local women and men helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.

From right to left, Field Officers Ian, Jacqueline, and Erick talk with Deputy Head Teacher Mr. Beselah while evaluating the quality of the sand the community mobilized for construction.

The process officially began with our staff and school administration looking around the school compound to 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.

Parents work on the rain tank's foundation

Then, we cleared the site by excavating the soil to make level ground for the tank foundation. We cast the foundation 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.

Mixing concrete for the tank's foundation, underway in the background

Next, we formed the walls using a skeleton of rebar and wire mesh with sugar sacks temporarily tied to the outside as backing. We attached this to the foundation’s edges so that the work team could start the Ferro-cementing process. They began layering the walls with cement, alternating with the inner and outer side, until six cement layers were in place. (The sugar sacks are removed once the interior receives its first two layers of cement.)

Sugar sacks tied to tank's wire form

Inside the tank, we cast one central and four support pillars to ensure the dome does not cave in once cemented. Meanwhile, we plastered the inner wall while roughcasting the outer walls. We dug and plastered the access area to the tap outside of the tank, where we also installed a short staircase.

Teamwork and help from all ages plastering the tank interior

In front of the access area, we constructed a soak pit where spilled water can drain from the access area through the ground. The pit helps to keep the tap area dry and tidy.

Pillars underway inside the tank

Dome construction could begin after the tank walls settled. We attached a dome skeleton of rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks to the tank walls before cementing and plastering it using similar techniques as the wall construction. We included a small manhole cover into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.

Plastering tank exterior

We propped long wooden poles (about 75 of them!) inside the tank to support the dome while it cured. Then it was down to the finishing touches: fitting a lockable cover over the tap area, affixing the gutters to the roof and tank, and setting an overflow pipe in place at the edge of the dome for when the tank reaches capacity.

Dome work

Once finished, we gave the rain tank three to four weeks to undergo complete curing. Finally, we removed the interior support poles and dome sugar sacks and cleaned the tank.

A teacher and students pose formally at 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 and 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 poses at the rain tank.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, three for the girls and three for the boys. The students were so excited about these new latrines that we had quite a fun photoshoot to celebrate them!

Girls pose with their new latrines.

These new latrines have cement floors 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 boy strikes a pose to the side of the latrines.

Handwashing Stations

The two 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 using a new station outside the latrines

Health club members will teach other students how to wash their hands at the stations properly, make sure the stations are filled with water, and ensure that there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash available.

Handwashing using a new station outside the latrines

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the principal, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for the school. When the training day arrived, the lead facilitator for the project Ian Nakitare along with a small group of co-trainers deployed to the site. 26 students and teachers attended the training, which we held inside a classroom for most discussions and outside for the practical sessions.

Students actively participate at training.

We focused on COVID-19 prevention, transmission, and symptoms while also covering several other topics. These included personal hygiene such as bathing, oral hygiene, and the ten 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.

Dental hygiene volunteers

The student health club leaders' election ended up being the most memorable part of the day as it became more of elimination than a proposal of leaders. Almost all of the students wanted to be elected leaders, but as soon as one would propose their own name for the ballot, other students would do the same and make a case for their own election, or explain why the other student might not be the best fit for the position. It became even harder when everyone was eliminated from the treasurer position, and the group had to land on a new candidate than those who recommended themselves. Finally, however, the students successfully elected their peers to fill each position.

Physical distancing check at the rain tank

The student health club will be greatly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at school. It will encourage good health and hygiene practices amongst their peers, teachers, and the larger community. We involved stretches, dances, and physical activities 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.

Handwashing exercise

The second most memorable part of the training was the session on personal hygiene. The facilitator led the group through various lessons on keeping themselves healthy, clean, and fit. Whenever the facilitator asked about bad practice, a few students pointed the finger at someone else they claimed did or did not do something. The pupils kept accusing others of wrongdoing until everyone had been pointed out. When the facilitator turned to good deeds, it turned out they were all in the same boat. However, the facilitator encouraged the students to be more supportive of one another and stop shaming each other with intentions of self-promotion.

Masking up at training

"This training has been excellent. Quite a lot has been taught that I used to do wrong. Had the students known me like they knew each other, I would have been pointed out," remarked a smiling Moses Sukume, a teacher who is also the faculty advisor of the new student health club.

"A few things I noted were under the dental hygiene session, the use of toothpaste [for toothbrushing]; use of flowing water during bathing and handwashing; and foods to boost one's immune system. I have learned quite a lot, and I am very grateful to your organization. It is quite brilliant that you accompany the project with this training," he said.

Pupil Nancy demonstrates her handwashing prowess to her classmates at training.

"The training was good, and I learned a lot. I learned how to wash my hands properly and also the importance of wearing a mask. It will really help me keep Corona away," said student Manuel.

Fetching water from the rain tank

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 field officers' team to assist them. We will also continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Clean water flows from the St. Peters Bwanga Primary School rain tank.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

December, 2020: St. Peters Bwanga Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Peters Bwanga 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!

A Year Later: Big Plans for Secondary School!

January, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped St. Peters Bwanga Primary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Potencia. 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. Peters Bwanga Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Peters Bwanga 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!

Potencia, 14, shared what it was like before a rain tank was built at her school. "All we knew was carrying water from any water source out there. It was never easy because the heavy container would drag me behind, making me late for lessons."

But for the past year, she and her classmates have been enjoying unrestricted access to clean water whenever they need it. "Even with just a mere cup, one is able to fetch water from this water point. It has become our main source of drinking water, and we drink directly from it because we feel it's clean and safe compared to what we used to have."

She concluded with her big plans for the future. "Being my final year in this school and expecting to sit for my final national examination, I am able [to] sit in class and concentrate fully on my studies. I believe that I will pass my exam and join a high-ranked secondary school in my country."

Potencia with her teacher at the rain tank.

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. Peters Bwanga 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. Peters Bwanga 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.


Project Underwriter - From the Hills Family
4 individual donor(s)