Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 322 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/11/2024

Project Features

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"I have been in this school for the last 6 years and I must confess that a lack of safe water on the school compound has not been an easy thing for us," said Deputy Head Teacher of Sharambatsa Primary School, Mr. Jackson Wasilwa.

"We have a school feeding program and it's a great challenge to maintain as the water on the school compound cannot be used for it. This has seen our students waste a lot of time. Our performance has been average, mostly due to the lack of water."

On a typical school day for the 305 pupils who attend Sharambatsa Primary School, the morning starts as early as 6:00 am when they wake up, bathe, do their morning chores, eat breakfast, and even fetch water for their families' use first. Then, each student collects their school bag and a water container. As the pupils pass Mihako Spring, they rush to fetch water before arriving at school. At the school gate, students are checked for water and those found to be without it are sent back out to fetch water before they are allowed to join their morning assembly. Though the daily requirement to carry water seems like a punishment to the pupils alone, the 17 teachers and staff at Sharambatsa Primary are equally concerned about the pupils' health and well-being. Without a safe source of water on campus, their current situation just to meet the school's daily water needs are a lose-lose for everyone involved.

The school does have a hand-dug well on its grounds, but its water is not suitable for cooking and drinking. Though covered with a cement cap, the well is unlined below ground. This leaves the well water open to contamination from the surrounding area. Animal waste, human waste, and farm chemicals are just some of the things that leech into this water. These contaminants are compounded by the dirt and bacteria that enter the water when students must dip their entire container and the rope attached to it into the water to fetch it. The water is visibly murky.

The non-potable well water is supposed to be used for cleaning purposes only, but the youngest students sometimes drink it anyway not fully understanding the negative consequences; illnesses always follow. The poor quality well water forces the school to send students to the spring to collect water. Though this water is considered safe for consumption since the spring was protected, its the tiresome and time-consuming process that is dragging the pupils' health and academic performance down.

"I must give my comments regarding the state of water and sanitation in this school because I've been here long enough to know," said the school's Board of Management Chair, Mr. Peter Mulunda.

"The boys have only 1 latrine as the others collapsed. The girls have 6, but they are still not sufficient. Water has been a big issue. Each day I have to face explain to them why their children have to go to the spring each day. They blame me as the Chair for not ensuring that we have access to safe water like other schools...One day, one pupil was almost knocked down with a speeding motorist [while carrying water back to school]."

From humble beginnings in 1996 when it was founded by the African Israel Nineveh Church and learning began under a tree, Sharambatsa Primary has developed at a steady pace. Now with several permanent classrooms sponsored by the government, the school remains without a water source of their own and their latrine numbers are severely lacking for the size of their student body. With just 2 handwashing stations on campus placed near the staffroom, students are often too intimidated to use them, though there is not often the water or soap to make them functional anyway.

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

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

August, 2021: Sharambatsa Primary School Project Complete!

Sharambatsa School in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tank!

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 will unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

"A burden has been lifted off my shoulders," said 12-year-old student, Moses W. "I believe my performance will improve since I'll concentrate on studies now."

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

"With this clean water in our school now, my pupils won't be taking breaks from class to go home due to sickness," said Phanice Mbayi, a 35-year-old teacher at the school. "Children won't be wasting time running to Mihako Spring to get water. Cleaning duties will be done efficiently thus making my work easier. I'll be able to cover the syllabus."

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. Locals helped our artisans with their manual labor, too.

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.

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.)

Inside the tank, we cast one central and four support pillars to ensure the dome does not cave in once cemented.

Don't you love the look of fresh plaster?

Meanwhile, we plastered the inner wall while roughcasting the outer walls. We dug and plastered the access area to the tap outside the tank, installing 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.

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.

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.

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.

We officially handed over the rain tank to the school. 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. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day, flowing in all directions.

"Sharambatsa Primary community really worked so hard to see this project implemented," said one of our field officers. "Many admitted that they had never seen such a thing and it was marvelous. With the great and big welcoming hearts of this community, one is tempted to visit again and again and again."

VIP Latrines

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

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, the facilitators (Lillian Achieng, Janet Kayi, Olivia Bomji, Batuli Ismail, and Mercy Chepkirui) deployed to the site to lead the event.

All of the students were interested in attending the training. The headteacher had to convince the pupils that it wouldn't be possible for everyone to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. He then picked a few participants from every class to represent the school.

Twenty-four students and teachers attended the training, which we held at the school under the shade of some trees.

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.

Soapmaking turned out to be the most memorable topic during this training. It captured the attention of both teachers and pupils. Many participants could be heard saying that now that they knew the process, they would venture into this business. The topic had an immediate impact.

"I am planning to venture into the soapmaking business in my village," said Esther Mituyi, a teacher who attended. "I won't buy soap anymore unless when I need bar soap. We have been washing our hands most of the time without soap due to its price. With the soapmaking training we have received today, we will be able to make enough soap for our school. It's cheaper and affordable."

The second most memorable topic was personal hygiene. The young participants teased each other on how they have avoided taking baths on a daily basis. Some made fun of the boys for taking "passport" baths (meaning they only wash their face, hands, and legs). With the teachers emphasizing the importance of hygiene, the young participants were encouraged to keep their cleanliness standards high.

Michael W., a 13-year-old training participant, understood the message. "The training will be a great boost for me in terms of hygiene and sanitation maintenance in our school. I happen to be the school president, and so I oversee the hygiene of our school. The participants will apply the knowledge they have received, thus making my work easier. I will also take care of my teeth now that I've gotten facts on dental care."

By the end of the training, each pupil understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.

Handwashing Stations

The two handwashing stations were set up during training. 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 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.

We asked Esther 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.

"Being a teacher, the first impact was that I missed my pupils and missed passing knowledge to them," Esther said. "The long stay at home had an effect on our syllabus. The pupils came back having forgotten most of what they had been taught."

But there are other challenges still facing the school with regards to COVID-19. "The biggest challenge we have is the physical distancing that is required," Esther continued. "Our classrooms are few and not spacious enough. The school has assigned the gateman to take the pupils' temperature as they come in from home."

When an issue arises concerning the rain tank, 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!

July, 2021: Sharambatsa Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Sharambatsa 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: "I like going to school"

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Sharambatsa 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!

The students at Sharambatsa Primary School used to spend all of their energy collecting and carrying water to school each morning. So much so that they found it difficult to concentrate in class.

"To me, it was hard because I was forced to wake up early, go to the spring to fetch water, then collect my handbag to school. This made me to hate school. It was a burden carrying water and books to school," said 14-year-old Joy N.

But since we implemented a rain tank on her school campus last year, things for Joy have been different. Now she has time and energy to put towards school, and thankfully, she is enjoying it again.

"I like going to school because nowadays I only carry my books. I have enough time for papers and my performance has improved," continued Joy.

Not only has Joy's pleasure in school increased, but she has other big plans that will increase her chances of doing well in school.

"Because there is enough water at school, [I] am going to start a project of chicken-rearing, and if all goes well, I'll sell the chicken and the eggs, and [with] this money, I will buy enough stationery," concluded Joy.

Joy drinking from 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 Sharambatsa 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 Sharambatsa 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 Sponsor - Imago Dei Community