Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 197 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2022

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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"As students, we have really been affected due to the lack of clean and safe water in the school," said Mercy, who is 1 of 182 students and 15 teachers and staff that make up Muhaya Secondary School.

Founded in 2006 under the Church of God Kenya's sponsorship, Muhaya Secondary School has gradually grown in student population and academic achievements, including co-curricular activities such as scouting. But the school's severe clean water shortage is stopping it, and its students, from reaching their full potential.

The only water source on campus is a small plastic rain tank that students quickly deplete.

"As a school, we have undergone various challenges as a result of the water shortage," explained Principal John Otieno.

"Students have been forced to carry water from home, which has not only negatively impacted their academic work but also their discipline...Indeed, water is life. We shall really appreciate if a solution is found."

The "home" water students carry to school originates in an open stream in the valley. Depending on where students access the river, the terrain can be wet rocks with rushing water or slick muddy banks. Both are dangerous to students, especially as they try to leave the river with their heavy containers. There is no room for accidents.

Students start their day by going to the stream to fetch water and either returning home to transfer the water to a smaller container they can carry to school or by lugging their bigger container with them the whole way.

Mercy said the morning requirement to come to school with water takes up so much time that the students are often late to or entirely miss their morning lessons. The road to school is long, and their containers heavy.

When - not if - the water runs out during the school day, teachers have to send students out to fetch more. Teachers find they do not have enough time to cover their full syllabus, while students fall behind in their academic performance due to the lack of time in class.

The high rate of water-related illnesses further challenges students in their school due to drinking the river water, which is unquestionably unsafe for human consumption. Waterborne illnesses such as cholera and typhoid can be expensive to treat and physically debilitating, keeping students from their studies while seeking treatment and care. Pupils' families are struggling to pay these recurrent health bills.

Students' health is put at further risk by their inability to carry out necessary cleaning and hygiene tasks at school, including washing their hands.

"We are forced to do manual cleaning twice a week, hence raising concerns on our hygiene and standards," Mercy said. For example, the latrines should be cleaned at least once daily with so many students using so few toilets. And without handwashing, fecal-oral diseases compete with students' illnesses contracted directly from the unsafe drinking water.

The school is eager to disrupt its cycle of unsafe and insufficient water, absenteeism, and water-related illnesses among students. We are eager - and ready - to help them.

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 used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.

The school and we firmly 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 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.

The student health club will oversee the two new handwashing stations we will provide and ensure 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

Two triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls, and three doors 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 one-day intensive training session with students, teachers, and parents. This training will cover a wide range of topics, including COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, prevention; personal and environmental hygiene; and the operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations. There will be a particular emphasis on handwashing.

Our team of facilitators will use various 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 home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and promote acceptable hygiene practices within the school, including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up training before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Project Updates

March, 2022: Muhaya Secondary School Rain Tank Complete!

Muhaya Secondary School in Kenya now has access to a new safe, clean water source thanks to the completion of their rain tank! 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 will unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

"The standard of hygiene will improve," said student Brian O. "[We will have] enough time for studies, and also health issues will be minimal, hence no cases of missing school."

When Brian was asked what's next for him now that the tank has been completed, he said, "Focusing on school academics and ensuring that we achieve in life to bring positive change in a community."

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

"The entire school program will run effectively," said Principal Charles Otiende. "Students will concentrate on academics and also teachers will have much time with students in classes. Manual cleaning will be done on a daily basis. I will ensure [the] legacy of the school is uplifted."

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. Locals 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.

Students sweep the area surrounding the newly completed tank.

VIP Latrines

The girls latrine.

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.

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, the facilitators, Victor Musemi, Erick Wagaka, and Olivia Bomji deployed to the site to lead the event. 22 students and teachers attended the training, which we held outside the classrooms under a shady tree.

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.

"The training was of much importance to me," said student Nimcod M. "I really learned and gained skills which are of importance to me and [my] community. [I will teach] others on matters of hygiene standards and ensure people live a healthy life."

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 Stations

Sharon washing her hands.

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.

"The training was very much successful, especially on practical experience," said student Sharon A. "I assure I will teach others whatever I learned and change [the] lives of other people in school and [the] community at large."

The students' favorite topic, in which they showed the most interest, was soap-making. They couldn't believe that soap could be made so easily and with readily available ingredients.

Learning to make soap.

When an issue arises concerning the rain tank, 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!

January, 2022: Muhaya Secondary School Rain Tank Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Muhaya Secondary 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: "Now, I get to enjoy my game time after class"

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Muhaya Secondary 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 a rain tank was installed at Muhaya Secondary School last year, students spent large amounts of their time and energy collecting water to meet their daily needs. It left them exhausted and unable to concentrate in school.

"I had to wake up very early in the morning to go to the spring at home to fetch water which I [would] carry to school. Most times, I would reach school tired and ready to end the day, unable to concentrate in class," said 16-year-old Trizza I.

But since the rain tank's installation, things have improved for students.

"Before, we would go to fetch water during game time for cleaning the school. Now, I get to enjoy my game time after class," said Trizza. "I hope to engage in a sport I like and pursue it further, and even compete in it with other pupils in other schools."

"Now, I'm so excited that all it takes is for me to run to the tank, open the tap and fetch my water for anything I want it for," exclaimed Trizza.

Trizza (second from right) with classmates and staff.

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 Muhaya Secondary 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 Muhaya Secondary 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 - H2O for Life
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