Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 375 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/02/2024

Project Features

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"We have always wanted to construct a bigger [rain] tank that is able to serve the school with clean and reliable safe water, but it is too expensive for us [alone]. Cases of stomach upsets are rampant as a result of consuming contaminated water from unknown sources. We will be happy if this WaSH project is implemented so that we can access clean and safe water and stop cases of absenteeism caused by waterborne and water-related diseases," said Deputy Head Teacher of St. Joakim Buyangu Primary School, Mr. Wycliffe Mukiling'ani.

St. Joakim Buyangu Primary School is a public mixed primary school that was established in 1960, sponsored by the Catholic Church. Beginning with just 30 pupils, now the school hosts 360 pupils and 15 teachers and staff every day, and yet they rarely have water available on campus.

The only source of water at school is a small plastic rain tank with just 8,000-liters volume - quite insignificant when this water is needed for the entire school population's daily drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs.

Pupils scramble for the little water this tank has to give, and in the process they sometimes get hurt. No rain for just 3 consecutive days means the tank runs dry, forcing pupils to carry water from home every morning and after lunch. Each walk is tiresome and time-consuming for the pupils as they also need to carry their books to school. When students finally get back to class, they are often too tired to focus well, negatively impacting their academic performance. Even with students bringing water from home, however, the school has to severely ration their water usage.

At Buyangu Primary, the quantity of water is not the only challenge; the safety and quality of water in school has been an ongoing issue as well. The small rain tank has never been cleaned in the years since its installation, and there is no method for treating the water once students fetch it. The water pupils bring from home is even worse since not everyone observes hygienic practices when handling the water. Upon a quick spot check, the jerrycans the pupils use to carry water are dirty and some of the water they fetch comes from contaminated sources.

Pupils frequently contract waterborne and water-related diseases like typhoid and diarrhea after drinking water at school, whether it originated from the little tank or home. Since students combine water for use at school, even 1 contaminated source or dirty container means everyone is at an elevated risk for waterborne diseases. When pupils or teachers get sick, it means more missed class time and lower grades.

Since water is at the heart of maintaining good hygiene and sanitation, the situation is wanting at this school. There are no dishracks or handwashing stations. The latrines in use are dirty and smelly since they can only be cleaned once a week, and some are already full. None have lockable doors.

"Our latrines are always dirty and I don't feel comfortable using them but I have no choice since we don't have an alternative. If we had sufficient water in the school, we would be able to wash our latrines and classes every day and wash our hands after using the latrines. We would also have clean and safe water to drink and for general use," said pupil Juliet.

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: St. Joakim Buyangu Primary School Rain Tank Complete!

St. Joakim Buyangu 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.

"Having a reliable and safe source of drinking water in the school will reduce stomach issues caused by drinking contaminated water from unknown sources. Our parents will no longer spend money on hospital bills. Instead, they will invest more in our education for a bright future," said Maxmillar, a female student at the school.

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

"I look forward to this school's performance improving because cases of absenteeism that were caused by waterborne and water-related diseases will decrease," said Dickson Okoth, headteacher.

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 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.

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.

Faith Ouko, the BOM chairperson, said, "This project is a great milestone to this school. Students now have a safe and healthy learning environment in school which in turn will result in better grades. I am glad I am part of this positive change."

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.

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

Since the school had closed and the headteacher comes from another county, the chairperson of the school board had to take charge of intended training on hygiene and sanitation. She approached parents who agreed to release their children to come to school. When the training day arrived, facilitators Christine Masinde and Patience Njeri deployed to the site to lead the event. Ten students and teachers attended the training, which we held.

The training was conducted under a shade tree in the school compound. It was calm and sunny. The participants sat one meter apart to keep to the COVID-19 preventive measures.

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 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.

One of the memorable topics was wearing masks well. We realized that almost all students had masks, but they had kept them in their pockets. They only wear them when going to school and when going back home. We emphasized the importance of wearing masks and even demonstrated to them how to wear masks correctly.

"Today, I have gained knowledge not only on matters concerning water, sanitation, and hygiene but also how to prevent COVID-19 disease. Being the only boy who attended the training, I will share this information with my schoolmates and also friends at home," said Pascal.

We asked Maxmillar, a female student who attended the training, 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.

"When school was closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Kenya, I was devastated because it seemed like the end of my education. I tried to study at home, but it was not easy without the guidance of our teachers. I missed my friends and learning. When the President announced that schools would re-open in January 2021, I was excited. At the same time, I was worried because washing hands frequently was not possible due to the lack of a reliable source of water. But now I am happy we have a reliable source of water to enable us to clean our hands as many times as possible."

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: St. Joakim Buyangu Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Joakim Buyangu 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-related diseases are now a thing of the past"

July, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped St. Joakim Buyangu Primary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Gloria. 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. Joakim Buyangu Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Joakim Buyangu 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!

Gloria Z., a 13-year-old student at St. Joakim Buyangu Primary School, shared what life was like for her before we installed a rain tank at her school last year.

"Water was scarce in this institution," said Gloria. "Students, on several occasions, were requested to carry water to school for use. This was indeed tiresome, forcing me [to] abscond [from] school on several occasions."

But life has improved for Gloria and the other students now that water is readily accessible on their school campus.

"We now enjoy [the] availability of clean, sufficient water. The tank is a reliable water source serving the entire school when [the] need arises," commented Gloria. "Congestion is now a thing of the past as water is available in the school compound, and one can access [it] at any given time of need."

Gloria continued, "Water being in the school compound, we now enjoy ample time for our studies. Much time is now created for the students to attend classes."

Not only are students spending more time focusing on their schoolwork, but their hygiene has also improved.

"Washing of hands is now a norm in this school, and this has reduced infections in the school," said Gloria. "Water-related diseases are now a thing of the past as we now enjoy clean, safe water for drinking."

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. Joakim Buyangu 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. Joakim Buyangu 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 Langferman Family