Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 474 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/04/2024

Project Features

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Dirty. Muddy. Rushing. Not fit for human consumption. These were the first words that came to mind when we saw the main water source for the 459 students and 15 teachers at Mwikhupo Primary School: the River Lusumu.

Every day, students arrive at 6:45 am and are sent to the river to fetch water. Without any source of water on campus, this muddy river is the sole source for the entire school's daily drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. Whenever there is a need for water in the school, the students are sent back out to the river along with the rotating Teacher on Duty. There, students carefully pick their way across slippery rocks in the riverbed to perch at the water's edge while they fill their containers. The water is filled with pollutants from human activity, animal waste, and farming chemicals. When it rains, the river surges and even more contaminants are washed into the water.

"As the head teacher, I have had a hard time when pupils go for water. I often need to sit and pray for them because if anything happens to them, I'm answerable. God has been faithful to have watched over them throughout this time and we are ready to provide anything that you need us to provide [for this project]," said Head Teacher Mr. Simon Indeche.

Given the constant need for water, the interruptions for this necessary task are frequent. This leads to a lot of missed class time for pupils, negatively impacting their academic performance. The walks are long and tiresome, and when students get back to class they are often too tired to focus well.

"At times, we are asked to stop a lesson only to be told that there is no water for the preparation of lunch. We always obey and go, but on the other hand, our study time is wasted leading to poor performance," explained pupil Zipporah.

There are several water filters on school grounds, but they are not capable of keeping up with the demand for drinking and cooking. Consequently, some river water still goes untreated straight into students' cups and kitchen meals. Head Teacher Indeche reported that most pupils complain of stomachaches after drinking the water and that the rate of absenteeism due to water-related infections is very high. Combined with the missed class time from fetching the water, this absenteeism is driving students' performance down.

Due to the water shortage and strict rationing the school must enforce as a result, hygiene and sanitation at Mwikhupo Primary are severely lacking. Latrines and classrooms go uncleaned for long stretches of time, and there are no handwashing stations for pupils to clean their hands. There are just 2 doors of latrines for girls and boys each, none of which have doors. Instead, makeshift banana leaf walls have been put up, but their large gaps and constant deterioration offer little privacy to the pupils. The students are humiliated to be using the toilets so close to one another without any real separation, but they have no other choice.

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

March, 2021: Mwikhupo Primary School Project Complete!

Mwikhupo 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.

Pupils pose in front of the completed rain tank.

"Having safe water at school throughout the day will help reduce the rate of absenteeism due to waterborne diseases," said pupil Thomas.

"Since we will have water within our school compound, I will convert the time used to go and get water from the well into study time, and this will help me improve my performance."

Student Christopher collects water from the rain tank.

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

"This will go a long way in aiding our school's improvement, both in terms of the syllabus completion and its physical appearance. I believe now, getting clean water will not be a challenge and, as a result, we expect to get fewer health issues and fewer absentees. The school's average grade will automatically improve," said teacher Andrew Mayende.

"With the tank, we hope to use the water to ensure that this school looks better and also get gets enough time to cover the syllabus. Movement in and out of the school in search of water will also be minimized."

Teacher Mr. Nabangi gets a drink from 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.

Local materials delivery at the school.

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.

Students help deliver water for construction.

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.

Laying the rain tank's 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.)

Students help carry the wire wall skeleton to place over 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.

Plastering inside the tank.

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.

Drawing point construction

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.

Interior plaster and pillar work continues.

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.

Dome work

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.

Affixing the gutters.

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.

A pupil enjoying clean water from the rain tank.

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.

Primary student Becky with an Early Childhood Development student at the tank

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 Betty Muhongo and Stella Inganji
deployed to the site. 20 people attended the training, which we held under some trees within the school compound. Outside, there was enough space for demonstrations while adhering to physical distancing protocols.

Facilitator distributes visual aids 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.

Teaching how to make a leaky tin for handwashing.

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 practice

The handwashing demonstration was memorable as the participants were all excited to take part in the exercise. Leadership was also an exciting session as the pupils appointed one girl they said was the best leader. The group proposed this one student for all three of the health club's leadership positions of chair, secretary, and treasurer. In the end, she was elected Chair.

Handwashing practice

"I have not been washing my hands as recommended. With the knowledge acquired, I will be the ambassador of change to the rest of the pupils. This Monday, we shall demonstrate handwashing with the entire school population," said student Christopher, the club's elected Secretary.

Christopher handwashing at a new station.

"Having learned new hygiene and sanitation practices, I am going to be a changed person, and this will lead to better performance in my academics," noted student Elizabeth, the club's elected Treasurer.

"Personally, I have lost a lot due to missing class lessons [during the national school shut down because of the pandemic]. I was supposed to be in Class Seven this year, but now I am forced to repeat Class Six. This is a great setback to my progress. Also, I missed attending my classes lessons and the interaction with my friends at school."

Elected student health club student officers with teachers and trainer.

"Being back at school, I am really happy, and I hope all the students and teachers will adhere to the rules and regulations put in place by the Ministry of Health so that we succeed in fighting this monster disease."

"Having learned how to prevent the spread of the disease, it's now our duty to put in practice what we have been taught and observe all the guidelines put in place to curb the spread of the virus. I will teach other pupils how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including just waving as a form of greeting instead of contact greetings."

Students demonstrate contactless greetings as alternatives to the traditional handshake.

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: Mwikhupo Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Mwikhupo 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 Has Made Everything Possible!

June, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mwikhupo 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!

Before we constructed a rain tank at Mwikhupo Primary School, last year, students had a difficult time finding time to study.

"Time was wasted, which affected our academic performance," explained 14-year-old Vitalis. "At, times we couldn't complete our lessons without being asked to go get water from River Lusumu. This also resulted [in] indiscipline behavior among pupils."

But now, students never have to leave school grounds during the day. This has freed up so much time.

"Having this water within our school compound has made everything possible," Vitalis continued. "We are able to attend lessons as required without any interference. This has helped us complete our syllabus on time and do revisions, which has resulted [in] good performance."

One of the school's teachers even told us that more students are coming to Mwikupo since other schools nearby don't have access to reliable water. The school is thriving, and so are its students.

"We now have peaceful environments for learning," Vitalis concluded.

We hope Vitalis and other students like him use this regained time to brighten their futures and be happy and healthy.

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 Mwikhupo 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 Mwikhupo 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 Underwriter - Gus and Genevieve Ingraldi
H2O for Life
Generations Jane and her children and there children and their children
3 individual donor(s)