Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 422 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/07/2024

Project Features

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"As a Headteacher, it's my responsibility to make sure that the school has a reliable source of water. But the cost of building a tank is too expensive for the school. This COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation difficult for us since the handwashing stations should have water all the time. We try our best, but the water is depleted before the end of the day," said Mr. Jackson Etemesi.

Headteacher Etemesi works at Itabalia Primary school, where there is no on-campus source of water for the 408 students and 14 teachers and staff. The school relies on students carrying water from many different sources several times to meet all of their drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. Still, they are falling short in meeting their water needs.

Each morning, students start their day by carrying water from home to school. However, water brought from "home" cannot be trusted since some students fetch water from open pools of water and others draw water from open streams. Students' jerrycans are also very dirty both inside and out, meaning that even a clean water source would be contaminated by the time it enters the container.

Once the water runs out at school, students are sent back out to fetch more during lunch and games time. Some return home or to the streams and puddles, while others head to a protected spring in the village. Again, even the spring's safe water is put at risk by students' dirty containers. And since the water is combined for use at school, even one dirty source means the entire school is at risk of water-related illnesses.

Cases of waterborne and water-related diseases, including typhoid and diarrhea, run rampant in the school. These illnesses keep students out of class while seeking medical treatment, draining their families of their financial resources. Students miss from being sick combined with the time lost to fetching water each morning and afternoon add up to mean a lot of missed syllabus coverage. Students' academic performance is, therefore, lagging.

"We get infected by waterborne diseases due to consumption of contaminated water at school. We hope to get clean and safe water so that we can concentrate on classwork and improve the overall performance of the school," said student Sarah.

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 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 unlock the potential for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Handwashing Stations

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. These new latrines will have cement floors designed to be easy to use and 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 special 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 good 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

July, 2021: Itabalia Primary School Project Complete!

Itabalia 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.

"I am happy I won't be carrying water from home to school wasting time on the way. During lunchtime, I can run home for lunch and come back without going to the stream to get water. I hope to put more energy into my studies and achieve the highest marks I have ever gotten since I came here," said Fidelis, a 14-year-old male student.

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

"My life will change from sending children home to get water to now being able to access water internally from this water point. I say thank you. My main goal is to see the children's mean scores improve every time they do exams. I believe time wasted to go and look for water will be recovered for learning," said Mr. Ombaka, teacher.

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.

The headteacher led the students in celebrating this new facility. They were happy and expressed their gratitude to the donors.

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

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, facilitators, Amos and Chebet deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty students and teachers attended the training, which we held on the school compound.

The training was done under a shade tree, a great environment for training. Since it was outside under the tree, there was natural light, and COVID-19 prevention guidelines for physical distance seating could be followed.

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.

"Wow, the training was good, I must admit. This knowledge will impact my life by ensuring the environment around me is clean and safe. As the elected chair of the water committee, I will share the knowledge with my fellow pupils," said Martha I.

"This training has beefed up the information I know about COVID-19. It has helped me know the different ways you can handle a COVID-19 patient without stigma. I have also learned a lot about hygiene and sanitation. I am not worried because we have learned to live with it. We wash hands, wear masks, and other interventions. Right now, there are vaccinations of people. That means we are winning," said Ishmail.

We asked Ishmail 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.

"It was just the worst of my days. I was bored even to the point of losing interest in education as I thought we would never come back to learning. But I thank God although the syllabus is delayed, at least we are in school. I missed my friends so much, playing football with them, storytelling, and other things. I missed my teachers, especially my math teacher, who could inspire us in the morning with random questions that kept our brains alert."

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!

June, 2021: Itabalia Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Itabalia 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: "Learning is now fun!"

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Itabalia 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 the project, life was really tough," said 12-year-old Irene A. "Every morning, I had to come [to school] with my 20-liter water container full of water. Then, later in the evening, [I had to] go to the river again to get more water to be used for cleaning purposes. This really made me dread waking up every morning for school."

A year ago, Itabalia's students spent a significant amount of time and energy sourcing water for the school's everyday needs. But since we installed a rain tank on school grounds, students can use their time on better things.

"Now, everything has [been] made easy," Irene said. "All I have to do is go to the water tank, open it, and fetch my water. Learning is now fun because I no longer reach the school tired from carrying water."

And because the rain tank is protected and monitored, Irene and Itabalia's other students no longer have to worry about water-related illnesses.

"With this water point, I no longer have episodes of diarrhea and stomach upsets," Irene said. "Also, the water point has helped us maintain high standards of hygiene and sanitation around the school. Our classes and toilets are washed daily."

With a clean environment and time to study and dream, the students of Itabalia Primary School now have brighter futures ahead of them.

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 Itabalia 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 Itabalia 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.


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