Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 460 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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With no secondary school nearby, the community members of Gambogi town thought it wise to start a school to tap into the pupils who were graduating from their primary section. Thus in 2009, Kitagwa Secondary School was established by students' parents through the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church of Kenya. With no land of their own, they opened with just 2 classrooms located within the primary school's compound.

Kitagwa Secondary has since grown to a complete institution boasting of its own compound and learning facilities, though they have not fully relocated as the principal's office and the kitchen still lie on the primary grounds. Kitagwa boasts of good performance in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education as this year they came in second in their county. Today, 437 students attend here who are taught and supported by 23 teachers and staff.

Still a relatively young school, Kitagwa Secondary faces a severe clean water shortage. The only sources of water on campus are 2 small plastic rain tanks which amount to just 18,000 liters combined capacity. This is nowhere near enough to sustain the student body; the tanks run dry quickly and often. There is also no means of treating this water, so the students are exposed to waterborne diseases including diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera.

"Water in the tank is never treated, yet this is the water that we drink. I have twice been diagnosed with typhoid infection and this can be due to the water that I drink in school as at home we do treat our water," explained student Pamela.

The water crisis at Kitagwa Secondary School means that the school staff must constantly ration water use since the tanks are meant to fulfill all of their drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs, yet they always run out.

"The current capacity of the tanks used to store water is not sufficient and cannot serve us the entire season...During the drought spell, we are forced to stop mopping our classes for fear that the tanks will run dry and this will force the school to request the students to carry water to school from their homes," said Principal Mr. John Mahelo.

The classrooms are not the only things that go without cleaning due to the water shortage. Latrines, kitchen utensils, and students' dishes also go unwashed, and the 1 handwashing station the school has cannot be filled with water to make it functional. The entire school's hygiene suffers from the lack of cleaning regimen, and students are especially prone to fecal-oral disease transmission through unwashed hands.

When students contract water-related diseases, they miss out on class while seeking treatment. Achieving high marks can often be a challenge because of this. When the water in the tanks runs out, students are also asked to bring water from home. The walk is tiresome and time-consuming, swallowing up more of the students' time and energy that should be spent in class.

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 just 1 handwashing station for students to clean their hands after using the latrines or before eating lunch, but rarely the water and no soap or ash to make it functional.

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 currently available at Kitagwa Secondary School are almost full, especially the girls' latrine block. They are also few in number compared to the student population.

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

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: Kitagwa Secondary School Project Complete!

Kitagwa Secondary 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.

Student Brian holds a glass of clean water from the new rain tank.

"I am happy that water is finally flowing in our school. I am happy I will attend school fully and build my future without thinking about the lack of water," said Brian, a student at the school.

"The water point will guarantee us good health. It will also promote hygiene and sanitation because our toilets and our classrooms will be clean since we will be accessing clean and safe adequate water."

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

"The water point will keep us healthy because we now know the source of water. Before, we consumed water that we were not sure about the source, and the students used to be sick. Now, we say bye to dirty water," said Deputy Headteacher Serah Mdiiga Katsiiri.

"The water will help us improve our cleanliness in school because it's a matter of high importance that the surroundings should be clean."

Deputy Headteacher Serah Mdiiga Katsiiri holding a glass of water from the 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.

Community members help mix concrete for the artisan's use.

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.

Pouring concrete over the stone and wire foundation and around tap and drainage pipes.

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.

Lining up the wire wall with 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 plasterwork begins against the wire and sugar sacks.

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.

Pillars after plastering.

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.

Dome work underway

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 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.

Sanitation teacher celebrating clean water on campus.

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.

Handwashing at a new station.

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 Olivia Bomji and Patience Njeri deployed to the site to lead the event. 15 people attended the training, which we held under a tree outside the classrooms. The environment was conducive because of the fresh air and the cool shade, making everyone more attentive.

Trainer Olivia leads a lesson on properly putting on and wearing a face mask.

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.

Olivia demonstrates using the elbow for safer coughs and sneezes.

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.

Trainer Patience teaches the ten steps of handwashing as students follow along.

The most memorable topic was mask-wearing. The students voiced that they believed all the masks are the same. We explained why some masks are used for one day and disposed of while others can be washed and be used for some time. The students promised never to reuse their surgical masks again.


"The training has changed my way of doing things, and from today I will take care of my body because it is the only place I live in," said student Pauline, the elected Secretary of the student health club.


"The training made me learn more about how risky and dangerous it is to contract the virus. This has made me more careful by ensuring that I wear a mask, wash my hands, keep physical distance, and maintain general hygiene at school and home," said Clinton, the club's elected Chair.

Students go through contactless greetings, like waving, instead of the traditional handshake.

We asked Clinton 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.

"We stayed at home for so long, and this affected our classwork and the way of thinking. I really missed my classmates and my teachers, and I missed learning too," he said.

"The virus has made me be scared all the time. I have worries that it might not go away and maybe the schools will be closed again. I feel happy that I am in school and learning is ongoing."

Dental hygiene demonstration

"Our school ensured that we had enough handwashing stations at every corner of our school, and the school gave us one mask each. I will ensure that I wear my mask correctly both at home and school, and be a role model to my siblings and parents back home."

Students collect 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 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: Kitagwa Secondary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Kitagwa Secondary 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: Clean Latrines and Hands!

October, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kitagwa Secondary 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!

A year ago, the students of Kitagwa Secondary School had a hard time staying in class because of the school's water shortage.

"Before, to get water was so challenging because I had to move out of the school looking for water with other students, thus resulting [in] wastage of time," said 17-year-old student Sarah O. "This was really affecting my health because of drinking contaminated water from different sources."

Now, though, things are different for the school and its students. People are healthier —and they are better able to keep it that way.

"[The] reliability of water has really impacted me positively because [the] availability of water in the school has greatly helped me to improve hygiene such as handwashing," Sarah said. "This is because before, I used [to] not wash my hands, but now I am able to do so to ensure that I eat clean food. Secondly, the rainwater tank has made me not go outside the village looking for water, which was leading to [a] wastage of time."

"As a school hygiene and sanitation captain, my plans or goals [were] to ensure that the school hygiene and sanitation is greatly improved," Sarah continued. "With enough water in the school, my goals [have] come through. As per now, the school has bought more handwashing facilities that I should ensure it is filled with water and soap every day. For the latrines, it is clean every day because water is available."

One of the school's teachers, Sarah, and our field officer, Nelly.

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 Kitagwa Secondary 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 Kitagwa Secondary 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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