Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 118 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 03/08/2024

Project Features

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"It saddens me to see these students come to me time and again complaining about the difficulties they go through in search of water outside the school compound. Sometimes, girls tell me they cannot bathe as they would wish for fear that the tanks will go dry and that they will have nothing to rely on the next day," said Lilian Ochieng, the Headteacher at Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf.

The 100 students and 18 teachers and staff at Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf face severe daily water shortages that worsen with the dry season each year. As an all-boarding school, the students have particularly high water needs compared to today students; showers, laundry, and all meals need to be provided at school.

There is just one small plastic rain tank on campus that does not last long once the dry season begins. When the tank runs dry, the school has to send students outside the school compound to search for water.

Students rely on off-campus water sources, a protected spring, and surface water such as streams. The students have to cross the road to get to either, which poses a particular danger to them since they cannot hear oncoming traffic.

"I get terribly scared as we cross the road to look for water from the spring. When danger approaches, we cannot easily notice it until we see them. Motorists are my worst fears. Some of them do honk at us, thinking we are hearing. This is a big danger to our lives," explained student Fabian.

The spring is about 500 meters, or one-third of a mile, away from the school. It is seasonal, so each dry season, its yield reduces greatly and sometimes stops altogether. To help reduce the amount of time students spend waiting in line to fetch water at the spring, some will opt to fetch water from the muddy streams that pass through the village. This surface water is unfit for human consumption, but the students are just trying to get back to their classes sooner by fetching it. Students report frequent stomachaches, especially in the dry season, when they rely on these stream sources more frequently.

Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf was established in 2000 with just two semi-permanent structures serving as classrooms. It has since grown to its full boarding school status today. It prides itself on giving its students, who range in age from pre-primary to primary and beyond, equal education opportunities as their hearing agemates. The school is non-financially sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, which offers students optional spiritual guidance outside of class. The school environment is cool and calm, away from the noise of the town and surrounded by eucalyptus trees.

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: Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf Project Complete!

Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf 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'm confident of my safety because I will not have to go and fetch water from outside the school. It will also allow me to give full concentration to my academics," said Fabian A., a student at the school.

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

Jane Opondo, a teacher, shared, "This water point will greatly impact my life; I'll be less worried about the safety of our children who have been walking 500 meters to fetch water. I, together with other staff members staying at school, will also personally be able to access safe drinking water while in school."

She mentioned that she foresees improved academic performance will be another top benefit of this new waterpoint.

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.

We officially handed over the rain tank to the school. 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 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, Olivia Bomji, Afuya Elvis and Amos Emisiko, deployed to the site to lead the event.

Twenty students and teachers attended the training, which we held in a well-lit and aerated classroom within the school compound. The training was conducted in a classroom because an outdoor venue with extra noises could easily distract the hearing impaired students.

Students having fun!

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.

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

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 soap-making session was a big hit with the students. Participants were amazed at how they could easily make their own soap which was evident by how attentive they were throughout the entire session.

Fabian A. gave his perspective on the training, "I have learnt a lot, especially on oral hygiene and COVID-19. I have learnt how to make soap, and I'm confident that I'll be able to apply that here at school and at home."

We asked Fabian 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.

"We weren't able to interact with my friends at school. We had also missed our teachers so much. Our academics were greatly affected by the closure of schools. We were not able to move to the next class. It feels nice getting back to school, interacting with friends and teachers, and finally, I'll be able to move to the next class."

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!

August, 2021: Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at the Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf 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: "Life has become easier."

December, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf 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!

Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf boarding school did not have sufficient water to meet the daily water needs of its students.

"It was a big challenge, especially after exhausting [the] water in the school. Going to fetch water was quite a daunting task; physical exhaustion and harassment from community members at times were the order of the day," said 13-year-old Diana K.

When the water on campus ran out, students were forced to cross a busy road to find more, which was a dangerous endeavor for deaf students, not to mention the time it took away from learning.

But last year we installed a large rain tank, and that has made all the difference. Students no longer have to leave the school campus and risk their safety to have water for drinking or their other daily needs like bathing and laundry.

"Life has become easier. No more confrontations with community members at the water point outside the school, and more playtime is now available to us," said Diana.

"This water point has helped me achieve my safety, increased my playtime available, and improved my hygiene because I can now bathe comfortably without worrying about water availability," concluded Diana.

With more time to just be children, hopefully, the future will be bright for Diana and her classmates.

Diana and her teacher Mr. Okello by the 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 Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf 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 Ebukuya Special School for the Deaf – 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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