Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 410 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Dec 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/16/2024

Project Features

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The water crisis at St. Kizito Shihingo Primary School is dire. Established in 1998 by the local community members and sponsored by the Catholic Church, the school has never had a water source on campus. Today, serving 390 students and 20 teachers and staff, the school is on the brink of closure due, in part, to its lack of water. The national Ministry of Health issued the dreaded closure notice to the school in 2020, just before schools closed due to the pandemic. Now, they are on limited time to prove they can teach children in a safe and healthy environment.

Every morning after arriving at school, first to check-in for roll call, pupils head to a stream in the village. The students rely on the stream for water, leaving class to fetch it before they begin their studies, during break times, and in the evening before going home. All these trips are to carry back enough water to meet the entire school's drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs, but the water still runs out. Each day, the students find they spend more time on their trips to the spring than attending class lessons, damaging their academic performance.

The stream water is unquestionably unsafe for human consumption. The school does own a single Lifestraw filter, but with such high drinking water needs, the water students drink rarely made it through the filter. There is a high rate of waterborne and water-related diseases among both students and teachers, driving a high rate of absenteeism in return. These illnesses include typhoid, stomachache, and severe sore throat problems. Both teachers and pupils were also confirmed to have developed itchy skin rashes after using water from the stream.

"The water we draw from the stream is dirty and has a bad odor. Due to the lack of clean water in school, we are forced to drink it while at the stream without even filtering it. This has caused me to have an itchy skin disease which is so uncomfortable. Sometimes, I have also developed severe sore throat and stomach pains," said student Angela.

"Personally, I have been forced to be absent in school after contracting waterborne diseases including typhoid and stomachache. This is due to using dirty water from the passing stream. In most cases, I am forced to buy drinking water from the shops, which sometimes is expensive," said Richard Shichenga, the school's headteacher.

Access to the spring is a big concern among the teachers, who accompany students but cannot perfectly supervise each individually. Most pupils congest the stream to get back to class faster, but sometimes the smallest students are pushed out of safer collection areas. During the rainy season, the river surges, and the students risk being swept away in the water.

The rainy season also makes the quality of the stream water even worse. Runoff deposits dirt, farm chemicals, animal and human waste, and garbage into the water. Accordingly, water-related diseases and absenteeism reach their peaks at this school each rainy season.

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

December, 2021: St. Kizito Shihingo Primary School Rain Tank Complete!

St. Kizito Shihingo 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.

"The availability of water in the school will help me a lot as I will be able to access safe clean drinking water hence keeping waterborne diseases at bay," said Sheldon A., 13.

Sheldon taking a drink of clean water!

He continued, "I will be able to concentrate in my studies hence improving in my academics because there would be no more wastage of time fetching water every day away from the school compound."

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

Patricia Musazi, the health teacher of the school, 53 said, "Since the water is within the school compound, as a sanitation teacher, it will help me heighten hygiene and sanitation standards in school."

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.

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 Rose Serete, Nelly Chebet, and Patience Njeri, deployed to the site to lead the event. The headteacher selected the participants from grade four to class eight classes. Twenty-nine students and teachers attended, 25 female and 4 male.

We held the training under a shade tree because it was a conducive environment, free from noise and out of the scorching sun.

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.

Soap-making caught the attention of participants. During the session, students did their best to write down the instructions so they could use them in the future.

"The training was very valuable to me because I have known the importance of hygiene and sanitation both at school and home. However, [learning the] soap-making process will help me to be self-reliant by making soap and selling [it]," said Sheldon A.

We asked Sheldon 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.

"Closing of school impacted me negatively because we were so worried that we will never come back to school. I really missed my studies and my colleagues with whom we used to play games together and share ideas about the future life."

Sheldon continued, "I was so excited coming back to school to continue with my education which I had missed most."

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!

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: "We easily get water."

December, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped St. Kizito Shihingo Primary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Sheldon. 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. Kizito Shihingo Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Kizito Shihingo 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 we installed a rain tank at St. Kizito Shihingo Primary School, students had to leave the school grounds to collect water from an unprotected stream. Not only did drinking this water make students sick, but going to the stream kept students out of class and exposed them to dangerous snake attacks.

"We fetched water from a passing stream for [cleaning]," said 15-year-old Sheldon. "For drinking, we fetched from a spring. The same containers we [used to fetch] water for cleaning are the same [we used] for cooking. In the course, the water was contaminated. We waited [a long] time to go to fetch water. Our proximity to [the] forest also [created a] risk of being attacked by snakes."

But now, with a rain tank on campus, students don't have to worry about wasting time, unclean water, or venturing into the forest where snakes are.

"[The tank] has reduced the risks of being attacked," Sheldon said. "Even last year, one of us was bitten by a snake. With this water point, that has changed. We easily get water.
We have saved time for remedials (study periods) and also enhanced our food hygiene."

"Generally, we have saved a lot of time," said teacher Jane Namwenya. "Especially in the morning for remedials, where water is fetched within a short time for cleaning purposes and kitchen use. It is easier for [the] teachers on duty to monitor [the] behavior of students since they are in school all time. This water point has enabled us to learn. Indeed, water unlocks different potentials. The mean grade for our school has slightly gone higher. Our sanitation standards are on [an] upward trend. We intend to continue with that spirit, and thank you so much."

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. Kizito Shihingo 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. Kizito Shihingo 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.


St. Peter Catholic Elementary - 4th Grade
Lesinski & Fagan Families
IBA's Campaign for Water
2 individual donor(s)