Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 149 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/05/2024

Project Features

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Samitsi Special School stands directly opposite Samitsi Primary School along the Malava-Samitsi earthen road. The area is a bit serene, with the public playground neighboring the school. The vegetation of trees and farm crops can be seen in the neighboring homesteads.

Samitsi Special School was established in 2010 with just four classrooms under Headteacher Madam Ezna Fifa's direction. Since its opening, obtaining an education has been provided free of charge for day students. When the school later introduced its boarding section, it began charging a minimal fee for students' care. The pupils have never sat for the standard national education examinations. Today, the school serves 140 students and 9 teachers and staff, with just 6 students living in the boarding program.

There is only one water source within school grounds, a set of taps connected to municipal piped water. But the piped water is not consistent or sufficient to meet the entire school's drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. It only turns on for a few hours a few days each week, never following a set schedule.

As a result, pupils have to fetch water each morning and afternoon while at school. The students head across the busy road to the borehole at the primary school. There, students from Samitsi Special School are often bullied by their agemates from the primary school. For those students with physical disabilities, the short walk to the well can take a long time, wasting their precious class time in the process. At least one teacher must always accompany the students to fetch water, further taking them away from their syllabus coverage and other school responsibilities.

"I fear crossing the road to go the borehole. The other pupils at Samitsi Primary school sometimes scare us off. I don't enjoy fetching water," said pupil Janepher.

Even with students fetching water across the street, the school does not have enough water. It has to pay parents, and use school staff, to go to a spring in the village to fetch still more water and deliver it to the school. The protected spring is too far away from the school for teachers to consider sending their students. The spring is always crowded with community members who also need to fetch water, making these trips long and frustrating for the school staff, who need to get back to their duties. The school is losing a lot of money paying for this special water delivery.

Without enough water, the school often has to sacrifice basic hygiene and sanitation measures, including handwashing and cleaning the latrines.

"Lack of a reliable water source in the school affects me directly, especially when it comes to the school sanitation. We can't do our cleaning properly," said teacher Janepher V. Nakhurenya.

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, 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 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

September, 2021: Samitsi Special School Rain Tank Project Complete!

Samitsi Special School in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water 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.

"I no longer have to go to the primary section to fetch water," said 13-year-old Damaris. "They used to bully us over there, but now we have our own water. I won't face humiliation again."

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

"As a teacher in this school, my mind is at rest now," said teacher, Eunice Wamocho. "I used to worry so much about the children whenever they would cross that road to go fetch water, keeping in mind that they are special children."

Eunice continued: "The population of pupils in this school will increase since parents with special children will feel comfortable to leave their children in [a] school where water is available and they are not required to go outside."

How We Go From Ground to Rain Tank

Construction for this 75,000-liter rain tank was successful! Unfortunately, however, the construction pictures for the process of this project were lost.

Despite the school having a low population and the pupils coming from poor families, the school management, using the little resources they had, managed to pull together all the locally available materials. This required a great deal of hard work and determination.

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.

VIP Latrines

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. Participants were available from all classes - in fact, we actually had more participants than we had requested.

When the training day arrived, facilitators Lillian and Mercy deployed to the site to lead the event. 30 students and teachers attended the training, which we held under the partial shade of trees and buildings in the school compound.

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; and operation and maintenance of the rain tank, latrines, and handwashing stations.

For this group, the most exciting topic was dental hygiene. The participants enjoyed the practical part of brushing their teeth. Some had never owned a toothbrush and were happy to receive one.

The second memorable topic was soap-making. The participants couldn't stay sitting; they moved closer and tried to get the names of the reagents right. The end product amused them so much.

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, pupils understood their role in sustaining clean water and good health within their school community.

Handwashing Stations

The two handwashing stations were set up during training. These were placed outside of the girls' and boys' latrines to encourage handwashing after latrine use. Training participants 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.

One of the school's teachers, Janepher Nakhurenya, enjoyed the training for her own personal reasons as well as for the enrichment of her pupils. "This training has been of great benefit to me," she said. "I'll be able to make soap, use it for cleaning at home, and also sell it to make some money."

"I have learned the correct way of washing my hands," said Thierry, an 11-year-old  Samitsi student. "I will do it all the time."

We asked Thierry 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 missed having food at the right time," he said. "I feel sick when I feel hungry. My teachers at school know this, so they always give me food at the needed time. At home, it's not the same since there is no food every time."

But now? "I am happy," Thierry said. "I am with my friends and food is available."

About her dreams for the future, Damaris added: "I will be able to learn to read and write. It has been hard for me to understand, but if I stay in class longer, I will understand."

When an issue arises concerning the rain tank, the 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.

The staff at Samitsi Special School wanted us to express their gratitude to all the donors for this project.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

August, 2021: Samitsi Special School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Samitsi Special 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: Freedom From Fear

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Samitsi Special 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 Samitsi Special School are used to adversity, but the added physical and emotional burden of collecting sufficient water to meet their school's needs often felt like too much.

"Getting water was a challenge where we used to fetch water across [from] the school [by] crossing the road. The hand-dug well we fetched water [from] could dry up in the dry season, or we [were] chased away by the owner," said student Eliud.

But since we installed a large rain tank at the school last year, students' burdens have lessened.

"We can fetch water here easily and do our work efficiently. [The] cleaning of classrooms and toilets has become easier. Our sanitation and hygiene have greatly improved as compared to earlier on," said Eliud. "Our teacher always complained of time management. We are able to make it to our classes on time."

Not only have students' daily cleaning chores become more manageable, and learning opportunities increased, but the risks associated with crossing the busy road and the bullying they faced while collecting water are also now gone.

"The fear of accidents and being chased away from water points is now gone," Eliud declared.

What joy knowing Eliud and his friends can experience freedom from those burdens!

Eliud and his teacher at the school rain tank.

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 Samitsi Special 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 Samitsi Special 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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