Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 398 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Apr 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Please note, original photos were taken before the pandemic.

We visited Friends Musiri Primary School on a cold morning; it had rained heavily on the previous night. The school is located in a rural area which is peaceful. The only noise that could be heard was that of a maize grinding machine in the distance.

Friends Musiri Primary School was established in 1974 by the Friends Quakers Church. The school has been able to register an above-average performance over the years, and currently boasts of 387 students and 11 teachers and staff.

But the only source of water on campus is a small plastic rain tank which holds just a few thousand liters of water. This tank's water is reserved for the school kitchen's use, but it frequently and often runs dry. Ther is no other source to provide water for the rest of the school's drinking, cleaning, and sanitation needs like handwashing. So, students have to bring water from home to school every day of the year.

"I had been contemplating seeking a transfer from this school, but it's only last year that we were supported with a 10,000-liters plastic tank," said Deputy Headteacher Milton Bandi.

"We restricted the pupils from accessing the water because it would not be enough, but this just doesn't feel right because the pupils' welfare should come first. During the dry season, we all end up depending on the water that is brought in by the pupils from home and this makes the pupils to bring in twice as much water than usual."

Pupils arrive in the school carrying water and their books by 7:00 am every day. This first round of water is used for cleaning the toilets, cooking the Class 8 pupils' lunch, and for the children to drink during break times. On Fridays, the pupils have to come back with water in the afternoon for cleaning the classrooms. Most Friday afternoons are spent on cleaning because the pupils become too sluggish to come back to school after lunch knowing the heavy task that is ahead of them. Some simply don't return, leaving the rest of their classmates to make up for their absence with less water and more work.

In the evenings when the pupils go home, they have to fetch water for domestic use and an extra jerrycan is kept aside to be carried to school the following day. This means most of the pupils lack time to study at home and do their homework. The mornings are also hectic because they have to walk slowly to school with heavy jerrycans of water and this makes them arrive late.

We accompanied some of the students home to see where they fetch water. One of the containers spotted in a nearby home where a pupil regularly fetches water was extremely dirty. This was a clear indication that the water in it could not be free from bacteria. Pupils' jerrycans were also very dirty, leading to the conclusion that the water was also not safe for human consumption. Even clean water can be contaminated by dirty containers or hands dipped inside as the students try to balance their containers and books with a better grip.

Because students' water is combined for use at school, even 1 contaminated source means everyone is at risk of water-related diseases. A lot of absenteeism is registered by class teachers, especially during the dry season. The pupils often complain of stomachache and general weakness or fatigue. This is due to the increased thirst levels which forces the pupils to drink more of the water that they bring to school from various unknown sources.

"As an administrator who is personally answerable for this school, I cringe every morning at the thought of a possible waterborne disease outbreak in my school. I never have a settled mind concerning the water crisis in the school," said Headteacher Charles Anyala.

We talked to students about their water situation at school too, but most pupils were very shy and just smiled when we asked about their challenges; they consider fetching water as a normal part of school activities, and they did not want to be caught complaining.

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

April, 2021: Friends Musiri Primary School Project Complete!

Friends Musiri 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.

Students pose to say thank you at their newly completed rain tank.

"Before the construction of this water point, I had to bring at least 20 liters of water to school, but now, with this, I am assured of having water at all times, therefore having more time to engage in my studies," said pupil Janepher.

"This water will ensure I have access to safe water at all times, therefore reducing the risk of contracting waterborne diseases due to unsafe water. Also, it ensures I have more time for learning and also participating in other extracurricular activities I have always wished to be in."

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

"Before the installation of the water point, my classes would be disrupted so that learners could get water for use at the school. Now, with this, I am sure of uninterrupted lessons with my learners, and with this I hope for better performance. This water point will ensure I get the most time with my learners in class, and this should, in turn, yield good performance at the end of it all," remarked teacher Margaret Kageha.

Madam Kageha (left) with other teachers and staff say thank you for 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 ready for use at the school compound.

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.

Setting the tap and drainage pipes in 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.)

Wire wall set into 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. 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.

Interior cement work

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.

Exterior cement 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.

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.

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 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.

New double-sided block of VIP 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.

Handwashing using a new station

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 using a new 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, Lead Field Officer for the project Patience Njeri deployed to the site with a team of facilitators to lead the event. 18 pupils and teachers attended the training.

We held the training outside under a very big tree within the school compound, which provided shelter from the scorching sun. The area provided the needed space to maintain physical distancing as required, and the tree ensured a cool breeze and lots of fresh air.

Adjusting masks during the session on the proper way to put on and wear a mask.

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.

Facilitator demonstrates 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.

A student demonstrates handwashing.

Menstrual hygiene was the most memorable topic in the training. The learners had much to say about it. One of the participants shared her experience of how she felt the first time she had her period and how embarrassing it was considering she had stained her uniform, and the boys in the class were laughing at her. It is was a painful experience for her, she said. We discussed and agreed as a whole that there was nothing to be ashamed of, it is a normal thing that even the boys should not be afraid to talk about and should not laugh about. The facilitator urged the girls to openly talk about it with the female teachers at school so as to be helped.

Learning about the parts and maintenance of the rain tank.

Kitchen gardening was another special topic. The participants were excited to know how to make a kitchen garden, and they were happy to learn how simple it is to build one and to understand how it works. The students discussed among themselves and agreed to make one so as to use it as a mode of income generation for their club.

Building a simple kitchen garden.

"I have learned a lot today that I intend to pass down to my peers and also my family and neighbors at home. The kitchen garden was something I hadn't heard of before and am glad I learned it. I will definitely teach my mother that and urge her to try it out, not only for home use but also as a means of generating income," said pupil Wycliffe, the elected Chair of the new student health club.

Wycliffe at the rain tank.

"I have learned so many things today concerning leadership, COVID-19, how to start up income-generating activities from locally available materials, and much more. With this information, I intend to pass it on to others and put it into practice. I believe this is the start of something great," Wycliffe added.

We asked Wycliffe 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 was not happy with the news of schools closing down due to the pandemic. This interfered with everything I had hoped for, and this meant I would have to resit the same class again. Also, I missed interacting with my friends, with whom we would compete in academics and even extracurricular activities."

"I am so happy that we're back. Now I can embark on my studies without any disruptions. Also, I can engage myself with other activities going on in school. We've had a strict policy on mask-wearing at all times. The school has ensured that we have handwashing stations at different locations in the school to ensure frequent handwashing."

Enjoying a drink from the rain tank.

"I think the virus has slowed our lives down and it's pulling us behind. Yes, I am a bit worried, but also knowledgeable on how to protect myself and my family, and that is exactly what I'm trying to do. With the new knowledge on how to wear the mask and why we should wear it properly, I intend to practice the same and also teach my family about the same."

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: Friends Musiri Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Friends Musiri 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: More Active and Healthy Students!

April, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Friends Musiri 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!

The students of Friends Musiri Primary School struggled to collect enough water every day, and the water they managed to collect made them sick until they had a rain tank installed last year.

Shanil, a 12-year-old student at the school, said, "We used to carry water from home every morning and after lunch. It was a tiresome exercise, but we had no choice but to do it."

Having water available on the school campus has significantly changed things for Shanil and her classmates. "Since the water harvesting tank was constructed, we have never lacked water in the school. We are more healthy and active in class than before," said Shanil.

"With the constant supply of water in the school compound, our sanitation facilities are cleaned every day, and we also wash our hands regularly with soap and clean running water. As a result, cases of stomachache and diarrhea have really gone down," concluded Shanil.

Shanil at the tank with TWP staff Christine Masinde (left) and her teacher John Samula (right).

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 Friends Musiri 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 Friends Musiri 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