Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 430 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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"With no water point in school, I am forced to carry water to school in the morning and at lunchtime and this makes me feel tired. There are times when I abscond classes for fear of being punished for not carrying water to school. This is especially true when I don't get water at home," recounted Winnie, who is 1 of 412 students at Gimengwa Primary School.

An average day for Gimengwa Primary pupils begins at 7:00 am when they arrive at school carrying water from home. Bringing water into the school is intertwined with the normal class activities because students have to go back home during break time and lunchtime to get more water to sustain all of the school's drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. To do this, classes are disrupted, cut short, or missed altogether.

When pupils get back to school, they are often too tired from the cumbersome walk to concentrate well in class. Students' academic performance on the national examinations over the last few years has been poor, and many teachers and students alike are dismayed when pupils from this school cannot continue their education afterward. But the students are not the only ones affected by the water crisis here.

"Water adversely affects the day to day running of an institution. A shortage of this commodity stalls the day's activity and this entirely affects the performance of our institution. Personally, I have once fallen victim to an infection related to water - cholera - and on different occasions, I have been forced to abscond some of my lessons [while sick]," explained Head Teacher Mr. Wilson Jarega.

Even though some of the water sources students choose at home may be safe, a quick spot check of the jerrycans pupils use to transport and store the water revealed that they were not clean on the inside and they did not have lids. With the school's 18 teachers and staff unable to monitor students' home water sources, the water is not trusted and prone to mishandling by the pupils along the way.

Because water is combined for use at school, even 1 contaminated source means everyone is at an elevated risk for waterborne diseases. Students report cases of typhoid, stomachaches, and diarrhea after consuming water at school. Water-related illnesses are made worse by the overcrowding and overuse of the school's few latrines, which do not have accompanying handwashing stations to help curb fecal-oral disease transmission. Absenteeism due to students' waterborne illnesses follows, further taking them out of class and negatively impacting their grades.

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

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

June, 2021: Gimengwa Primary School Rain Tank Complete!

Gimengwa 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 am so glad that I will no longer carry water from home every day. My hands will now rest because I used to strain my hands and sometimes felt pain when writing in class. I will concentrate on my classwork to ensure that I improve my grades," said student Ashley.

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

"I am happy because water will not disrupt the running of our institution. We now have free, clean-flowing water in our school compound. I am glad I will not get sick again because of dirty water that came to school," said Wilson Jarega, Head Teacher.

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.

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. 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 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. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

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.

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.

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 Olivia Bomji and Elvis Afuya deployed to the site to lead the event. Seven students and two teachers attended the training, which we held.

The training took place outside the school classroom under a tree. The venue was good, considering COVID-19 guidelines. We were able to maintain physical distancing and breathe fresh air at the same time.

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.

The club will be significantly 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.

"The training made me understand the importance of personal hygiene and dental hygiene. I used to ignore it because nobody had told me that it is very necessary, so today I have learned that it is important to be clean for my health," said Ashley.

Rodger, a student who also attended the training, said, "Today, I have learned the importance of following the ministry of health guidelines ensuring that I wash my hands and wear my mask correctly all the time for my safety and the safety of others."

We asked Rodger 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 wasted the whole year, and now I'm forced to repeat the same class. Back at home, I didn't read because we spent most of the time at the farm, and at the end of the day, I am too tired even to read because other chores are waiting. I missed my friends and teachers but what I missed most was learning."

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!

May, 2021: Gimengwa Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Gimengwa 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: "Water in school has brought me joy."

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Gimengwa 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!

Life at Gimengwa Primary School was difficult for students like 13-year-old Rodger K. before a rain tank was installed on the school campus last year. Students were exhausted from collecting and hauling water, barely leaving them any time or energy to focus on learning.

"It was hard and tiresome to get water, and I used to fear being in school," said Rodger.

But now, things are different for Rodger and his classmates.

"Having water in school has brought me joy. I now know the value of education and why [I] am in school because life in school is perfect," said Rodger. "The water point has helped me to have more time to do my class work and consult teachers."

Now, thanks to the water point returning more of students' time and energy, they have improved academically, and their futures look much brighter.

Rodger at 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 Gimengwa 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 Gimengwa 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 - The Kolluri Family Fund
Room 163
John Jay High School Room 163
12 individual donor(s)