Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 549 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/10/2024

Project Features

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"As we all know, water is life. My pupils waste a lot of time every day as they go looking for water outside the school compound. Because of COVID-19, water is needed in all aspects. As a teacher, I have to ensure that they are safe and as a result, sometimes, I also lose time having to lead them to the well and back and it also drags me back in terms of syllabus coverage," explained teacher Mark Shitika.

Mr. Shitika works at St. Elizabeth Shipala Primary School, which is located in a rural area surrounded by farms. The landscape here is cool, peaceful, and well-vegatated. Most buildings are modern mud houses and the roads are poorly maintained murram. The school began in 1998 under the sponsorship of the Catholic Church. Today, the school serves 534 pupils and 15 teachers and staff, and yet, the school still faces severe clean water shortages.

The only water sources on campus are a few very small plastic rain tanks that amount to just a few thousand liters of water storage. With high daily demand from the number of pupils on campus, these tanks are quickly depleted after each rain.

There used to be a well on campus, but changing property lines have turned that land into a community-owned parcel. The students had always shared the well with community members, but now, community members see the well as their water point that they have to put up with students using, not the other way around. Adults make the school children wait until all community members present have fetched water first, causing further delays to the school schedule and sometimes putting pupils at odds with their own parents. Conflicts and rising tensions are now commonplace between the school and community over access to the well.

"Sometimes we are harassed by the community members when we go to draw water from the protected dug well," said student Jonathan.

The school patches together water from the plastic tanks and well with water students bring from home. Every day, students' first responsibility at school is to deliver their water to the school kitchen and the handwashing stations across campus. When this water runs out - typically by late morning - students are sent out to the well to fetch more. Students return to the well throughout the day as they try to meet all of the school's drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. But as Mr. Shitika explained, they always fall short, especially with such high handwashing and cleaning needs during the pandemic.

The walk to school with water and each trip to the well drains students of their energy and class time. Without teachers being able to track every single student out fetching water, most pupils do not treat their water, leading to water-related diseases among the students. The most common waterborne illness students report is amoebic dysentery which results in diarrhea. When there is an outbreak of waterborne diseases at school, almost the entire school gets affected and the rate of absenteeism spikes. This leads to further missed class time and translates to poor academic performance from students.

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 two 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

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, 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

September, 2021: St. Elizabeth Shipala Primary School Rain Tank Project Complete!

St. Elizabeth Shipala Primary 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 will have peace of mind because there will be no interference between lessons where we were taken out of class to go and bring water," said 14-year-old student, Patricia N. "That being the case, I will have enough time in class to do revision (to study), and this will lead to improvement in my academic performance."

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

"Everything has been made easy for both teachers and pupils," said Head Teacher Mark Shitikha.

Head Teacher Mark Shitikha.

"Initially, a lot of time was wasted getting water from the borehole. But with water in our school compound, there will be a great improvement in our academic performance. With water within our reach, [the] sanitation standards of our school will improve."

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.

Girls bringing bricks.

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.

Ready for use!

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 Betty, Stellar and Mercy deployed to the site to lead the event.

The Head Teacher had asked us to train the whole student population, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, we trained a representative group instead. These students can pass the knowledge on to their colleagues.

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.

Trying out handwashing techniques.

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.

Both girls and boys were shy when the facilitator brought out a sanitary towel. However, after shedding more light on menstrual hygiene, the participants opened up and asked a lot of questions.

Training students on menstrual hygiene.

"Personally, I really appreciate our facilitators for coming to our poor school to enlighten us on sanitation matters," said Laureen C., a 14-year-old pupil. "Most girls fail to come to school during their monthly period because they fear being laughed at by boys. But boys were asked not to laugh at us, but help us instead."

"The training was valuable to me because there are some things that I never took serious like...washing my hands, brushing my teeth, among others," said Hilary, a 13-year old student.

Hilary demonstrating dental hygiene during the training.

"With this knowledge, I promise to put into practice what I have learned, and by so doing I will always be clean."

We asked Hilary 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.

"The pandemic really affected me," Hilary said. "I was prepared to sit for my final exam last year, but that was not the case. One year was wasted at home."

But the training filled Hilary with the resolve to apply what he learned. "As the Chairperson of [the health] club, I will try my level best to ensure that pupils observe all the rules and regulations put in place and even back at home. I will ensure that we have soap at all times, be it at home or school."

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!

July, 2021: St. Elizabeth Shipala Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Elizabeth Shipala 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: Time to Read!

January, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Elizabeth Shipala 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!

Last year, before we installed a rain tank at St. Elizabeth Shipala Primary School, students had to haul water to school with them, which left them exhausted and often late to school.

"I used to waste a lot of time going to the pump, time that I could have used in studying," said 11-year-old Sharon W.

But since we installed a rain tank right on school grounds, things have been different for Sharon and her classmates.

"I have enough time to study since the water is always available, and I don’t waste time looking for it," said Sharon.

Now that Sharon has more time to study and less worry about collecting water, she is working hard to improve her academic performance.

"I have achieved academic success such that I [have] improved in my studies since I have enough time to read," concluded Sharon.

Sharon having a drink from 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 St. Elizabeth Shipala 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 St. Elizabeth Shipala 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 - SafeEarth