Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 459 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2021

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 02/02/2024

Project Features

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"I do not like going to fetch water from the stream. It is very dirty, there are insects there, the grasses also hide mosquitoes, and sometimes we do not even finish our classes," said student Valentine.

Valentine is 1 of 448 students who attend Wavoka Primary School, where every day they must go to the dirty stream Valentine describes to fetch water because there is no other source of water on campus. Students are also asked to bring water from home on their way to school each morning. Whenever the water runs out during the school day, students are sent back out to the stream and their home water sources.

Water from either source is not safe for consumption. The water in the stream runs through various farms and has high levels of sand and mud in it. Animals walk through the water, community members do their laundry in it, and the presence of insects running through it makes it quite nasty. Known pollutants in the stream include animal waste, human waste, and farm chemicals, to name a few.

Water collected from home comes from various sources that the 11 school staff are not able to monitor for quality. Even for those sources that may be giving clean water, students' containers used to fetch it are visibly dirty, lack caps, and some of them give off a distinct and unpleasant smell. Students also use the same containers whether fetching water from home or the stream. The containers then infect what may have been clean water, and because the water is combined for use at school, even one contaminated source or container means everyone suffers.

Water collected from home is stored centrally and sometimes boiled at school, but not always. Water from the stream is only used for cleaning but sometimes makes its way to the central container for drinking anyway. This is not water that should be subjected to the human digestive system.

"When I joined this school early this year, I did not know that there was a different location for drinking water which was boiled from the kitchen. I just took a sip of water from one of the containers in the school and that was a turning point for me. I had to take a 2-week break as a result of amoebic dysentery I contracted from it, and I have never touched that water again," said Head Teacher Sir Moses Madzanza.

A number of students have experienced major stomach upsets as well, which have scared their parents. A number have also had typhoid which made the situation even worse as the parents had to pull them out of school to save their school fees just so they could secure money for their medical bills. With the mention of sickness, finances are always involved and as such the financial status of the parents has taken a beating as a result of their children consuming dirty water. When students or teachers miss school because of waterborne diseases, the lost class time is reflected in students' poor performance.

Wavoka Primary School was established in 1996 under the sponsorship of the community. The parents' push for its establishment was due to the increasing number of accidents their children were involved in while crossing the busy Malava-Kabrengu highway as they covered long distances to other schools. Wavoka Primary was built to counter these incidents, and later the International Pentecostal Holiness Church stepped in as a sponsor. This community has always been motivated and dedicated to improving their children's education in whatever way they can, but they have reached stagnation in trying to help solve their water crisis. We plan to help get this goal - and the water - flowing.

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 a few handwashing stations around the school's compound, but they do not have water and are not in use most of the time.

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

The latrines already in use at Wavoka Primary are characterized by their falling-off doors, strong stench, and rusty roofs. They are quite old and few compared to the student population.

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

March, 2021: Wavoka Primary School Project Complete!

Wavoka 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 give thumbs up at the newly completed rain tank.

"The burden of carrying water to school has been lowered off my shoulders. I can now run faster to school and never be late knowing that there is water in school," said student Clinton.

"I plan to achieve the marginal passing mark in my forthcoming end-term examinations. I have all the time to stay in my class and learn, unlike before when teachers would pop on us to run to the stream to fetch water for the kitchen."

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

"As a teacher in this school, I'll have enough time to teach these pupils since most of their time had been wasted when they went fetching water for cleaning purposes. I'll also have clean drinking water since we have always relied on pupils carrying water from home for our consumption. Yet, we couldn't even ascertain its purity," said teacher Josphine Waswa.

"Looking at my work schemes, I'll be able to complete the syllabus before time since I see the pupils having enough time to be in class."

Madam Waswa celebrating the rain tank.

The lead field officer for the project, Lillian Achieng', noted that, especially in a school compound with otherwise humble facilities, the rain tank had given the school a unique "facelift."

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.

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.

Pouring the concrete over stones, gravel, and wire to form 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.)

Aligning the wire wall with the foundation.

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.

Tying sugar sacks to the wire.

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.

Interior plastering and preparing the pillar forms.

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 the pillars and floor.

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.

Dome work underway with wooden poles leaning against the tank, ready for interior use.

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 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.

VIP Latrines

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

Girls at 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 at 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. 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.

Real with a new handwashing station outside the new girls' latrines.

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the principal's help, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for the school. When the training day arrived, facilitators, Lillian Achieng' and Nelly Chebet deployed to the site to lead the event. 22 people attended the training, which we held partially in a classroom and partially outside under a tree within the school compound.

Students practice properly putting on and wearing a mask 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, the ten steps of handwashing; environmental hygiene; child rights, operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, handwashing stations; and leadership and governance. During the latter, the students elected their peers to lead their newly formed student health club.

Practicing the elbow cough or sneeze.

The 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 session

"The training has really changed my perspective when it comes to taking care of our facilities in the school. I have often ignored them and thought it's the responsibility of the teachers to take care of our items in school. From today, I've learned that the wellbeing of the tank and the toilets are my responsibility," said student Cynthia, the elected Treasurer of the student health club.

Practical lesson on disinfecting the latrines.

"Myths arising from grown-ups in my village had made me believe that COVID-19 is just but a rumor. I had even stopped putting on my mask, but with today's training, I am taking every precaution to protect myself from this disease," said Real, the elected Chair of the club.

"Despite having lowered my guard due to the rumors, I still had that fear about the virus. With today's intense training and information, the fear is gone. I know how to go about it," Real added, referring to the basic prevention measures covered in training.

Handwashing practical

We asked Real 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.

"My education came to a halt, making us miss so much in terms of our syllabus. We are now back but catching up with the syllabus is so hard. I missed the class lessons, my teachers, and my fellow pupils. I also missed the games we play in school."

Dental hygiene session

"I am happy being back. I can now learn and have the hope of being the nurse I've always wanted to be. Our teachers had the handwashing stations installed at different points in our schools to ensure that we often wash our hands. They also encouraged us to put on our masks, though some of us did not adhere to this."

Students clean the school compound as part of the session on environmental hygiene.

"From the training, I've learned that I have to put on my mask always and put it on correctly. I'll practice this in school and any other populated place. I will educate my mum and grandma on this too so that they protect themselves when they go out to the market."

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. 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!

February, 2021: Wavoka Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Wavoka 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: Enough Time to Concentrate

March, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Wavoka 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!

Solomon M., 13 years old, explained what life was like before the school's rain tank was completed. "Before the project, we were carrying water from our various homes to school. This was not enough to use during daytime."

The school didn't have enough water to distribute to its students for drinking, let alone for cleaning, cooking, or gardening. But now, all that has changed.

"I no longer carry water from home to school," Solomon said. "Now I have enough time to concentrate on my studies. I have recorded an improvement in my academic performance. I arrive at school on time. I no longer go out and look for water during class time."

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 Wavoka 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 Wavoka 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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