Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 430 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Every day, the 413 pupils of Kitagwa Primary School report to class at 7:00 am while carrying jerrycans filled with water from home. They start their school day by using some of this water to clean their latrines while the rest of it is taken to the kitchen for storage. Then, throughout the day, the stored water gets used for drinking and cooking.

By lunchtime, there is always the need for more water, so the majority of pupils that head home for lunch are expected to carry back another container full. This second batch of water is primarily used for drinking and cleaning the utensils dirtied at lunch.

Classrooms are only cleaned on Fridays, though most of the afternoon always gets wasted because of the time it takes students to collect enough water to complete the chore. Whether it is the average day after lunch or Fridays during cleaning, some pupils abscond classes for the rest of the day instead of returning since they do not always want to carry water back with them, or simply because there is no stored water at home when they get there.

With just 17 teachers and staff at Kitagwa Primary, the adults are not able to monitor the water sources students choose at home. Even though some of the water students collect is originally clean, their containers are not. A quick spot check revealed jerrycans with dirt and growths on the inside and no lids on the outside; even clean water would be contaminated inside one of these jugs. Because water is combined for use at school, even 1 contaminated source means everyone is at a heightened risk for waterborne diseases. There are many pupils ill at any given time in this school, most of whom are treated for typhoid, diarrhea, and stomachaches due to the consumption of unsafe water at school.

"The lack of safe water is very inconveniencing for me. I have to carry drinking water from home and sometimes I forget to carry my water bottle to school. On such days, I get very dehydrated and I'm unable to perform my duties as required," said Head Teacher Beth Isalikho.

The students face even more exhaustion as they are the ones making multiple trips and carrying heavy containers back and forth every day. When students do finally get back to class, they are often too tired to focus well; hence the discouragement of returning for the afternoon lessons. All of these interruptions and missed classes coupled with the absenteeism driven by waterborne diseases are negatively affecting students' academic performance.

Since water is at the heart of hygiene and sanitation matters, the situation at Kitagwa Primary School is wanting.

"I also carry water from home but I can only carry enough for drinking. This means that I do not wash my hands after visiting the toilet and it would be hypocritical to teach my pupils the importance of handwashing when I do not practice the same due to lack of sufficient water in the school," said Teacher Irene Kadesa.

There are very few latrines compared to the student population, and their daily cleaning is minimal due to the severe water rationing the school is already doing. Many of the girls' toilets lack doors and the boys' latrines are crumbling. There is a partially constructed latrine block, but it is nowhere close to completion to be used. Local education development funds have promised more resources to complete these latrines, but its arrival has been delayed and there is no certainty of its coming. The overcrowding and overuse of the other latrines, coupled with the total absence of handwashing stations, increases the risk of fecal-oral disease transmission and related absences.

What We Can Do:

Rain Tank

A 75,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The Kitagwa Primary staff have also decided they will share limited access to the rain tank with a subset of community members - mostly pupils' parents - during school hours and with school permission. 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: Kitagwa Primary School Project Complete!

Kitagwa 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. All of these components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Students celebrate the rain tank and say thank you for the support.

"Before the installation of the water point, I was required to come with at least 20 liters of water or more every day to be used around the school. Now, with this water point, it will lessen the burden, giving me enough time to focus on my studies and others things at school," said Dorcas, a student at the school.

Students celebrate water from the new rain tank.

"With this water point, I hope to be a part of the solution that improves the sanitation around the school. Availability of clean and safe water means more time to concentrate on my studies and also engage in some extracurricular activities I have always wanted to be a part of," Dorcas said.

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

"Before the installation of the water point, getting water was such a hustle as pupils had to bring water from their homes. This meant sending them home a few times a day so as to bring water for use in the school, which in turn wasted a lot of time. But now, with the installation of the water point, now I will get enough time with the learners. Also, I will not need to worry about if the water I am using is safe for consumption," said teacher Luke Otambo.

Mr. Otambo at the rain tank

"With the completion of the water point, now I am no longer worried about the sanitation of the school because now there will be clean water for sanitation purposes. Also, now I will get to have more time to interact with my learners in class because now, less time will be used in search of water. This, in turn, should help improve the school's performance."

Madam Eunice with a cup of clean 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.

Students help deliver construction materials to the rain tank site at school.

The process officially began with our staff and school administration looking around the school compound to try and 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.

Laying the stone 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.

Pouring the concrete 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 layers of cement were in place. (The sugar sacks are removed once the interior receives its first two layers of cement.)

Aligning the wire wall skeleton with 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. Outside of the tank, we dug and plastered the access area to the tap, 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.

Tying sugar sacks to the wire.

Dome construction could begin after the tank walls settled. Using similar techniques as the wall construction, we attached a dome skeleton of rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks to the tank walls before cementing and plastering it. We included a small manhole cover into the dome to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.

Interior plaster work

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.

Lead Field Officer for the project Patience Njeri passes long wooden poles to the artisan inside the tank to prop up the dome while it cures.

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, as well as remind them of our continued support as they develop. Happiness, thanksgiving, and appreciation were the order of the day flowing in all directions.

School administrators celebrate the rain tank and say thank you.

VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, three for the girls and three for the boys. All of these new latrines have cement floors that are 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 properly wash their hands at the stations, make sure the stations are filled with water, and work to ensure that there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash available.

Boys using a new handwashing station.

New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was scheduled with the help of the principal, who ensured that the training date would be convenient for the school. When the training day arrived, facilitators Patience Njeri And Sam Simidideployed to the site.

Fifteen people attended the training, which we held outside under a tree within the school compound to provide shelter from the scorching sun. The area was surrounded by trees, providing a cooling effect, with enough space to observe physical distancing. Attendees included students from four different grades, the school's sanitation and hygiene teacher, and a representative from the school's Board of Management.

A student takes notes 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, 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.

Student Gift demonstrates handwashing with soap and running water using a new handwashing station.

The club will be greatly involved in the water, sanitation, and hygiene project management at school and 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 in 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 Sam demonstrates how to build a simple kitchen garden.

The session on how to make a simple kitchen garden using recycled plastic bottles and drip irrigation was the most memorable topic. The learners were surprised at how easy it was to use locally available materials to construct the garden. They were equally fascinated to learn that this could also be a source of income for them and their families.

Dental hygiene session

Dental hygiene was also a memorable topic, with learners giving first-hand experiences of how they have been affected at one point or another with dental conditions. The facilitator was equally fun, allowing them to ask questions and share personal experiences.

Students learn about the parts of the rain tank and how to maintain them.

"Today I have learned a lot, especially on leadership and governance. I have always desired to be in a position of influence; with the set of skills gotten today, I hope to be of influence to my fellow learners and also to those around me," said Gift, a student at the school.

Gift said she also learned some completely new topics and skills, like kitchen gardening. "Now I have the knowledge and I hope to pass it to my friends and even family so as to better our lives," she said.

Gift holds a cup of clean water at the rain tank.

We asked Gift about what it was like to be at home for most of the last year due to Kenya's national coronavirus-related schools closures, and what it has been like coming back to school.

"Being at home the entire time wasn't easy for me. Much time was spent doing house chores and very little time was spent studying. This, in turn, dragged me behind in my studies."

"At the very start, I was very scared [of COVID-19], not knowing how to behave or even handle things. But now, with all the information we got, I have learned to cope and also how to put in place measures to prevent myself. Yes, there are still some worries, but not as many as before."

Students demonstrate using the elbow for coughs and sneezes.

"I missed daily interactions with other learners. The discussions on different subjects, and also extracurricular activities, considering I was an active member of the football team."

"I am glad I am back at school, now I can concentrate on my studies without external distractions. Also, I get to interact with other learners on different subjects and this, in turn, is fun."

Students do a physical distancing check at training.

"Since the opening of schools, my school has ensured that we have handwashing facilities at different points in school to ensure that we wash our hands as often as possible. My school also ensures that no learner is allowed in class without a mask."

"I intend to pass down the information learned today to other learners, especially on proper face mask-wearing. I also intend to practice proper face mask-wearing and washing of hands regularly to prevent the spread of the virus."

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 team of field officers to assist them. In addition, 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 Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Kitagwa 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: Challenges Eliminated!

July, 2022

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kitagwa 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!

Students at Kitagwa Primary School used to have to bring water with them on their way to school and then leave again throughout the day to fetch more. But since we installed a rain tank on school grounds, no one has to worry about supplying water anymore.

12-year-old Gift, who we spoke to when we last visited Kitagwa, remembers well what life at the school was like then.

"Before the project's completion, getting water was very hard because the available plastic rainwater harvesting tank then could not sustain the school population even for a month during the dry spell," Gift said. "[This] could render us going for water outside the school compound to supplement it. It was very tiresome to go for water because the stream is quite a distance from the school."

Since the new rain tank has been installed, things have been very different.

"Getting water now in the school is very easy because the tank can hold enough water that could serve [the] school population for a lengthy period of time," Gift said. "Since we are accessible to water from within the school compound, we get plenty of time which we are utilizing for our studies."

Having water available anytime she needs it has freed Gift's mind so she can concentrate on the things that matter.

"For me, after going for water outside the school compound before, on arrival from the stream, I used to be totally exhausted, and I could lack concentration in class because of fatigue," Gift said. "But now, the water point [has] eliminated those challenges completely."

Gift at the rain tank with teacher Luke Otambo.

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 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 Kitagwa 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 - Milliman IntelliScript