Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 594 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jan 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/05/2024

Project Features

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Please note, original photos were taken before the pandemic.

There is no peace at Jamulongoji Primary School, and it is all water's fault. Or rather, its lack thereof.

Every day, the 480 pupils arrive in the morning with jerrycans of various sizes which are inspected for cleanliness before they are sent to fetch water from a spring in the community. The younger children are encouraged to bring smaller jerrycans so that they would do not strain so much trying to carry the water. These trips are tiresome and time-consuming, and they waste most of the morning remedial learning and sometimes the first lesson. Later, the pupils are also required to bring water back to school after lunch. This is the only way the entire student body plus the 18 teachers and staff get water for all of their drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs.

The spring pupils go to is located on a steep slope. During the rainy seasons, the pathway to the spring becomes very slippery and the pupils often fall and hurt themselves. Once at the spring, the unrest continues.

"As the Deputy Head Master, my mandate is to deal with cases concerning students. I never get a break in my office because the pupils often come to complain about how someone injured them or broke their jerrycan as they were scrambling for water at the spring. Some complain of stolen jerrycans because they look alike and are stored at a central place," explained Mr. Andrew Lung'aho.

"Apart from the pupils, the neighboring communities also come to my office to complain that the pupils become disrespectful to them at the spring because both the pupils and the community feel that they have the right to be given first priority. I just need a break to focus on other administrative duties that would help to improve the school's performance."

The sanitation and hygiene situation in this school is wanting as well. The latrines in use are on the verge of collapse, and they are not cleaned thoroughly or frequently due to the water shortage. Handwashing is being sacrificed too.

"As an administrator, I'm concerned about the hygiene and sanitation situation of the school. We have very few latrines which get dirty by 10:00 am and yet they cannot be frequently cleaned due to the lack of enough water. We used to have leaky tins [for handwashing] but we couldn't sustain them because they needed constant refilling," said Head Teacher Mr. Ben Magunga.

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 are some leaky tins that were once used for handwashing at this school, but without water or soap, they have been nonfunctional for a while now.

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: Jamulongoji Primary School Project Complete!

Jamulongoji 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. All of these components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Students celebrate the rain tank's completion

"As a student, the thought of not carrying water from home to school is already giving me peace of mind. I won't bear the shame of carrying my books on my back and a jerrycan of water on my head or on one hand anymore. At school, I am also sure of getting a safe, adequate, and reliable source of drinking water that is also accessible within the school environment," said pupil Gentrix.

Gentrix enjoying water from the rain tank

"By the virtue of the construction of this water point, we have learned to be responsible in the management of WASH facilities as student health club members," Gentrix continued.

"We now have a proper leadership structure put in place under the watchdog of our health and sanitation teacher, Mr. Ojwang. Second to this is the hygiene and sanitation knowledge and empowerment that we gained during the training. With this, we are armed to combat waterborne diseases, and COVID-19, among other related illnesses."

Making a splash to celebrate the tank

"Besides, the new water point has given us an honorable status. Our school will be counted among the few schools in Vihiga County that have benefited from the construction of a 75,000-liter rainwater harvesting tank. The rest either have small tanks or no tanks at all."

Students celebrate the rain tank.

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

"I have been carrying water from home and sometimes depending on water brought by students to do my kitchen duties," explained Ebby Lugonzo, who works as the school's cook.

Ebby fetching water for her work as the school's cook.

"But with the new water point, I won't be carrying water from home every morning - something that has been so burdensome. The new freedom will create an ample working environment for me as the school cook."

How We Go From Ground to Rain Tank

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

Even after schools closed in March, 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.

Tank with the first layer of cement on the walls and interior pillars visible.

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.

Interior plasterwork

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.

Digging the soak pit

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

Artisan works on the drawing point

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. 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.

Artisan checks the wire and rebar before cementing the dome.

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.

Cementing 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.

Temporary wooden poles inside the tank support the dome while it cures.

Once finished, the rain tank was given three to four 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 Jamulongoji Primary 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.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, three for the girls and three for the boys. 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 outside their new VIP 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. 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.

Students learn to use the new handwashing stations at training.

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, facilitators Erick Wagaka and Jacqueline Khalemesi deployed to the site. 26 people attended the training, including community-based leaders, teachers, and school staff. We held sessions both inside a classroom and outside near the rain tank and latrines.

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.

Trainer Erick leading a session at training.

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.

The physical distancing check: "When in doubt, throw your arms out!"

The most memorable moment at training was the demonstration of physical distancing. Trainer Erick asked the students to stretch their hands and swing them around to ensure they were not in touching distance of anyone else. To the surprise of the majority, this test proved that they were seated too close to each other. The learners were amused to note that they had apparently not been keeping the nationally recommended 1.5 meters of distance. They then broke into a deep laughter and started to adjust their seats, without the trainers forcing them to do so. Their response was spontaneous, fun, and enjoyable for everyone.

Students check out another version of a handwashing station, a leaky tin.

"I learned a lot...I am now equipped to be a good example to other students, and to my fellow girls, in matters of hygiene, good behavior, and how to be responsible for maintaining our water and sanitation facilities," said student Sharon, the newly elected president of the student health club.

Sharon collecting water from the rain tank.

"In the context of COVID-19, I am empowered to guide my peers to keep safe by social distancing so that they don't risk their health or take any chances. The subject of water is key...I will share this message...I promise to be a teenage champion and an ambassador among my peers on these issues," said student Brian, the elected secretary of the student health club.

Brian fetching water from the 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 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!

December, 2020: Jamulongoji Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Jamulongoji 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 Videos

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: Improved Academics and Better Health!

January, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Jamulongoji 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!

"It was so hard because we used to go long distances in search for water. It was tiresome and, moreso, time-consuming. The water itself was not clean because surface water was used by so many people."

Shalyne shared how life has been different over the past year. "Currently, it is easy to get water here because it is located within our proximity. The water itself is very clean because it [is] of [a] known source. I am no longer a victim of waterborne and water-related ailments."

And with the waterpoint nearby, Shalyne has been able to concentrate on her studies. "Since we get clean water, [I] have time for studies and this has translated to good performance in academics."

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 Jamulongoji 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 Jamulongoji 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.