Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 329 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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"My name is Melvin and I am a Form 3 student at Friends Mixed Secondary School Lwombei. My journey of education has not been an easy one here. Getting water each morning almost cost me one day when I was almost assaulted as I went downstream to get water from the river that is surrounded by dense vegetation," she told us during a recent visit to the school.

"I will be so happy to see our school having clean and safe water on the compound next year. This will enable me to attend my morning preps on time and I am confident of scoring the highest mean score and joining my dream college in the country that produces engineers, doctors, and teachers."

Melvin is just 18 years old, but her story is much older than that. Wherever there are water shortages in the world, girls and women are most impacted as they are typically the ones sent to fetch it. Students and staff at Friends Mixed Secondary School Lwombei agree that of all students, the girls are most at risk every day when they have to fetch water before school in the dark. But for the girls, their options are to either risk their safety or go without water. The choice is hardly a fair one.

Established in 2007, this school has never been able to secure enough safe and clean water for its students. Today, there are 306 students taught and supported by 23 teachers and staff.

Another Form 3 student named Roselyne explained what the water crisis at school means for girls like herself and Melvin:

"We are expected to be in school by 6:30 am for the morning preps. I wake up as early as 4:00 am to study and complete any school assignments. By 5:00 am, I go to take a shower, sweep our house, and I make breakfast for everyone. Then I get to take my own breakfast and by 6:00 am at the latest I have to be out of the house."

"I then take my school bag in one hand and a water container in the other and start on my way to school. I pass through a stream on the way to school and fetch water. At that moment it is still dark and it scares me going downstream alone. As I arrive in school, I proceed to class for morning preps for 1 hour. Anyone who does not come in with water is sent back and this means that they miss the morning preps."

All this work and stress, and it is only 7:30 am at Friends Mixed Secondary School Lwombei. Teachers confirmed that their morning lessons have been ineffective as most students come in very late and by mid-morning, most students are very tired and lose concentration. This is a big concern if it goes on, they said, because it may affect their pupils' performance in the national examinations which give them hope of attending college.

The school predominantly relies on the water students bring from home, collected from sources ranging from muddy puddles to smelly, unprotected springs and streams. We saw one student holding his nose at one source it smelled so bad.

There is a standpipe that was put in at the neighboring primary school, but the water is supplied by gravity and thus the school does not usually get water since it is located on higher ground than the source. The school is uncertain if the pipe will ever actually give water.

"It's not been an easy thing, managing a school without water. We normally have a school feeding program for tea breaks and lunch and it requires water, as does the cleaning of the toilets and classrooms. Without water, all of these things suffer," said Principal Henry Okare Amoke.

"It is every principal's dream to see their school excel in the national examinations, but it has not been an easy journey for me. Parents feel I am not doing enough to improve our performance. Little do they know that other factors and lack of necessary amenities also affect performance. I can't wait to have the project done in my school next year. I even wish it was yesterday. We are ready to contribute whatever is needed from our end."

There are currently no methods of water treatment for the combined water that students collect, and Principal Amoke reported that drinking this water has long been a health issue for his school. Cases of absenteeism are experienced almost every day with students and staff typically reporting issues of stomachaches, headaches, and coughing.

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

We will construct 2 triple-door latrine blocks using 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

We will hold a 1-day intensive training session with students, teachers, and parents. This 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

April, 2021: Friends Mixed Secondary School Lwombei Project Complete!

Friends Mixed Secondary School Lwombei in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tank, which can 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 say thank you celebrate the new rain tank.

"I will have enough time to do my school work and improve my performance academically because we know have water within our school compound. With water within our school compound, I will be able to wash my hands regularly, and this will help me fight the Coronavirus because this is one of the most recommended ways to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus," said pupil Melvin.

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

"As a teacher, I will be able to clear my syllabus on time. Initially I was not able to finish my syllabus because the learning program was being interfered with when students were forced to end the lesson to go and get water. Students will now have humble time to finish their syllabus and have enough time to do their revision, which will lead to good results after examination," said Madam Beatrice Rono.

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.

Students help deliver construction materials to school.

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.


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.

Laying the foundation

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.)

Interior cement work

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. 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.

Casting the pillars

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.

Exterior cement work

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.

Building the dome

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 takes a drink of water from the tank while students applaud its completion.

We officially handed over the rain tank to the school directly following the training. Students and staff celebrated the presence of clean water on campus. The event was an excellent 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.

Director Catherine Chepkemoi and a teacher share their thanks for the support for the project.

The school plans to organize a more formal handing-over ceremony next term that will be attended by parents, teachers, students, and the Board of Management because, upon the project's completion, the school was busy preparing for the national examinations.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines. The school decided to allocate four doors of latrines for the girls and two for the boys.

Girls in front of 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.

Boys in front of their new 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.

Girls at their new handwashing station

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.

Using a new handwashing station

New Knowledge

We scheduled hygiene and sanitation training with the school’s staff, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for pupils and teachers. When the training day arrived, facilitators Betty Muhongo and Stella Inganji deployed to the site to lead the event.

Fifteen people attended the training, including ten students, two sanitation teachers, one member of the board of management, one parent representative, and the Deputy Principal. We held the training outside under a tree within the school compound. The location was conducive as it was cool and open to ensure proper physical distancing could be achieved.

Physical distancing check

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.

Handwashing session

The club will be significantly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at school. It 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 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 demonstration

"Myths and rumors about COVID-19 was a highlight for us for the training," said trainer Betty Muhongo. "We got different versions of information from students. One student said that Corona only affects the old and people living with HIV/AIDS. The facilitator had to shed more light on that and confirmed to them that that was not the case. The facilitator requested the students not to continue being aloof because they are at risk too and there is a need for them to uphold the measures and take good care of elderly parents back at home," Betty reported.

Practicing contactless greetings

The demonstration on handwashing was the second most memorable topic. The facilitator demonstrated the ten handwashing steps to the participants, after which one student said it is so hard to adhere to the ten steps, saying that it is so cumbersome, especially when many people are to use the same handwashing facility like in a wedding ceremony. The facilitator requested them to start practicing the steps, and with time, everyone would be comfortable with the ten steps since it is for their own good.

Making adjustments during the session on how to put on and properly wear a mask.

"I have been able to learn a lot during this training period. I am going to put into practice what I have learned and even share with my family and friends, and life will never be the same again," said pupil Doreen, the elected Chair of the new student health club.


"We all know that knowledge is power. Most people have been giving wrong information about COVID-19, but with the information acquired during the training, no one will mislead me and my family," said student George, the club's elected Secretary.

We asked George what it was like to be at home for most of the last year due to Kenya's national coronavirus-related school closures and what it has been like coming back to school.

"I felt so bad because my precious time was wasted. To add on that, life was very expensive to our parents because we were all at home, so a lot of food was consumed and most parents had lost their jobs," George said.

Election of student health club leaders

"Since I am in charge of sports in our school, I really missed the sports activities that are normally held...I hope this year will not be like last year, and we shall have a chance to interact with other students from our neighboring schools."

"I am very happy to be back at school, and it's my humble request to other students that we shouldn't waste time. Instead, we need to compensate for the time lost last year," George continued.

Handwashing demonstration

"Before, our school had only two handwashing stations, one for teachers and one for all the students. Since water has been our major challenge, the handwashing stations lacked water and no one was responsible for that. With the child-to-child club, the stations will not lack water at all because they are mandated to provide day-to-day oversight of the project."

"I am worried in the sense that most people are ignorant about the virus. Personally, I have no worries about the Coronavirus simply because our facilitators have been able to take us through all steps that are needed for one to prevent contracting this virus. I will ensure that all my schoolmates adhere to the rules and regulations put in place by the Ministry of Health."

Students celebrate 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 to assist them. Also, 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!

March, 2021: Friends Mixed Secondary School Lwombei Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Friends Mixed Secondary School Lwombei 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: Able to Concentrate in School!

April, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Friends Mixed Secondary School in Lwombei, Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Ian. 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 Mixed Secondary School Lwombei.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Friends Mixed Secondary School Lwombei 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!

"I used to carry water to school every day. It was a tiresome experience for me," said Ian D., a 17-year-old student at Friends Mixed Secondary School in Lwombei.

But since his school had a rain tank installed last year, things have been different for Ian and his classmates.

Ian shared, "I look forward to coming to school every morning ready for morning preps without worrying about water shortages. I drink clean water anytime I get thirsty."

As a result, Ian has seen an improvement in his academic endeavors. He said, "I concentrate more in class during lessons. I am able to plan my time at school and my performance has really improved."

Ian with TWP staff member Christine Masinde (left) and his Headteacher Everline Esabwa (right).

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 Mixed Secondary School Lwombei 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 Mixed Secondary School Lwombei – 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 - Kapasi Family, in memory of Barbara Traudt