Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 524 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 07/05/2024

Project Features

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"Most of the time I am forced to go thirsty as I am scared of drinking the dirty water from the well. Sometimes pupils drop in dirty tins making it even scarier. On the other hand, when my pupils get affected due to this I am also equally affected."

This is the water crisis at St. Martin's Primary School in the words of teacher Mr. Eliud Wanjala. With 510 students and 14 teachers and staff on campus every day, the school is caught between a rock and a hard place with an unlined well on campus that only gives dirty water. Without another water source available to the school, they are left to consume contaminated water that causes high rates of waterborne illnesses among students and teachers alike.

"Personally I have had stomachaches and I have been forced to be absent once I've consumed the well water," said student Noel.

Pupils frequently report severe cases of typhoid and diarrhea after consuming the well water, which keeps them out of school while they recover. The expense of seeing doctors and obtaining medicine is eating into the pockets of parents and the school budget. All of this missed class time amounts to lower grades for students who cannot catch up after their extended absences, to the chagrin of both pupils and teachers.

To fetch water from the well, students lower a container on a rope into the water, submerge the container, then pull it back up. With each haul of water, the rope passes through students' unwashed hands and the bucket and rope bring dirt back down with them. But with no other choice for water, the school relies on this water for all of its drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs.

Cleaning is, however, lacking as the school prioritizes the water for other needs considering the time and effort it takes students to fill and carry each container of water. This is why there is typically no handwashing, despite the school having 1 handwashing station; there is usually not enough water to allot to its use. The sanitation and hygiene situation is wanting as boys only have 2 doors of latrines after another 2 being condemned. The girls have 6 doors, though 3 are almost full. All students are struggling with the low numbers of latrines compared to their population, which grows every year.

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

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

April, 2021: St. Martin's Primary School Project Complete!

St. Martin's Primary School 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.

"I will be able to come to school without water containers since water will now be in school. I intend to convert the time spent collecting water to study time - better results are about to be realized," said pupil Clinton hopefully.

Students share their thanks.

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

"Accessing clean and safe water will boost our health status. Our students will be able to drink clean and safe water from the tank and be free from water-related diseases. It will definitely help us to improve our academic performance," said teacher Kongo Everlyne.

Teachers celebrate the rain 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.

Students help deliver water for construction.

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.

Building the foundation

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.

Setting the wire wall form

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.

Working on pillars and tank floor

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.

Students help lift dome form on top of the tank.

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.

Cementing 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.

Students and teachers pose at the completed rain tank.

We officially handed over the rain tank to the school directly following the training. The Headteacher organized a brief meeting at the tank to mark the occasion. Teachers, pupils, and an officer from our team were present. The Headteacher thanked our team for the work well done and pledged to ensure that the project is well used and managed. A prayer was then made and the installed project was officially opened for use.

Health Club President Linda says thank you on behalf of all students.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of 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.

Girls pose 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.

Boys use 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 Jacklyne Chelagat and Nelly Chebet deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty people attended the training including three of the teachers in charge of the school's sanitation program. We held the training outside within the school compound.

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 Nelly demonstrates the ten steps of handwashing.

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.

Trainer Jacky leads a lesson on sources of water.

COVID-19 prevention was the most memorable as the participants drew what the novel coronavirus looks like, and the pupils were competing to see who could draw the best rendition. On-site training on the parts of the tank was almost memorable. Pupils were excited to learn and understand all parts of the tank and their functions.

A student sketches the novel coronavirus.

"Information is power. This training has made me more knowledgeable and well equipped with information that will not only help me improve on my hygiene and sanitation, but also improve my academic performance," said pupil Linda, the elected student health club president.

Students take a look inside the tank during training.

"The training was so equipped and informative. I am excited to have taken part in the training as I will be able to improve on my hygiene and sanitation standards both at school and home," said pupil Ambrose, the club's elected treasurer.

We asked Ambrose 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.

Students enjoy a drink from the rain tank.

"I was so worried. I thought I would never come back to school. I missed my friends, teachers, lessons, and school play," he said.

"I am so much excited to be back to school to be able to pursue my dream. The school administration ensured we are washing our hands frequently by placing the handwashing facilities at strategic points within the school compound. Teachers have always made sure every pupil has a mask on during class sessions."

Ambrose said that after completing training, he would wash his hands more frequently and put on his face mask throughout the school day.

John gets a drink 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 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: St. Martin's Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Martin's 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: Dreams of University!

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Martin's 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!

Abigael N., a 13-year-old student at St. Martin's Primary School, shared the challenges she faced collecting water before her school had a rain tank installed last year.

"It was very hard to get water since the distance was so long, hence a lot of time [was] wasted in getting water rather than studying. At times, we could go [to] collect water but return [because] the water point [was] dry, making us get back to school with empty jerrycans," said Abigael.

Now that the school has a reliable water source on its campus, things are different for Abigail and her classmates.

"Getting water has now become so easy since the water is just a few meters from our classes," said Abigael. "This has reduced [the] wastage of time. Thus, the time I used in collecting water from the nearby water point, I now use in doing so many other things like studying."

With more time and energy to focus on her studies, Abigael noted, "I complete my assignments on time. My grades have really improved."

"I have been so focused on my studies so that I [will] be able to go to my dream secondary school and later on get into a good university to pursue my dream course," concluded Abigael.

Abigael collecting water with a friend.

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 St. Martin's 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 St. Martin's 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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