Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 382 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Project Monitoring Data Delayed

Project Features

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Friends Secondary School Tombo is located at the foot of the Nandi Escarpment in a rural area. The school environment is free from noise and, thus, conducive for learning. The school has planted trees and flowers in the compound, creating a beautiful look and good air circulation. The school does not have a dining hall, so the students eat their meals under the trees, which provide shade.

Established in 1999 as a community initiative with support from the Friends Church, its population has grown gradually over the years. Today it serves 351 students and 31 teachers and staff.

Despite its age, the school has never obtained a sufficient supply of clean water for its students. The only water source on campus is a small plastic rain tank that runs dry in days after the rains stop. This is because the tank's capacity is minimal compared to the student population's needs.

To make up for its lack of water, the school requires students to leave campus to fetch water at every break time, including lunch, and sometimes even during class if the water runs out. To fetch water, students head to a borehole well outside the school grounds shared with both the primary school and the entire community. These groups overcrowd the well, causing long lines and wait times.

Students waste a lot of time each day waiting for their turn to fetch water. The well itself takes a while to fill their jerrycans, too - 95 pump strokes to fill a 20-liter container. All of this wasted time leads to incomplete syllabus coverage and very poor academic results.

"Getting water from this source is tiresome, especially in the morning. I get to school tired because of the distance and pumping water - it takes time, which makes me exhausted. Even listening to the teacher becomes hard," said student Julia.

To hurry up and get back to class, students crowd at the well, trying to push containers into the flowing water as fast as possible to fill them up. This means physical distancing is put to the side during each water break to return to school. Teachers are supposed to monitor students at the well to enforce physical distancing, but there is only so much the staff can make the students do since they are all suffering from the lack of water.

"The fetching water process is time-consuming, and this makes me not meet the day's target. With the COVID-19 pandemic, a teacher is forced to be there in person and supervise the students when they fetch water because of keeping social distance," explained teacher Hesbon Musiomi.

Additionally, even though water from the well should be safe to drink, students often mishandle the water on their walk back to school. Fingers dip into open containers without lids, and some students use their hands to direct the well water into their containers to make sure none of it spills in the process. Without sufficient water for consistent handwashing back at school, that means students hands' can contaminate the water and, as a result, put themselves and others consuming the water at risk of contracting water-related illnesses.

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

August, 2021: Friends Secondary School Tombo Project Complete!

Friends Secondary School Tombo 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.

"We need water for activities such as cleaning, cooking, bathing, and also to quench our thirst. With clean, safe water in the school compound, I am assured of safe water for drinking, allowing for amiable time in my classwork as my health will be good," said Julia, 17.

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

"Reliable, clean, and safe water is a big plus to me as a teacher. The time I was using to supervise students while they fetched water will be used for having remedial work which will make the students improve their studies," said Hesbon Musiomi, 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 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 in the morning directly following the training. Board members, teachers, and students gathered near the tank to express their gratefulness for the success of the project.

It was a celebration of 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.

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 Cathrine Chepkemoi, Janet Kayi, Bety Majani, and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event. Upon arrival, they reported to the principal's office and were assigned a teacher to assist them. The teacher randomly picked 20 students - 10 boys and 10 girls to participate. Twenty students and one teacher attended the training.

The training was held under a tree because there wasn't room in the classrooms. It was a conducive venue for learning. We had enough space to follow the Ministry of Health COVID-19 regulations and enough room for demonstrating activities like soapmaking, handwashing, and solar disinfection of water.

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.

The most memorable topic was soapmaking. Every student was very keen and eager to learn a new skill. One student interviewed said it is good to build both academic and life skills. Soapmaking for her is a new skill that has impacted her life now and in the future.

"The training was very valuable. It has impacted my life positively. Skills in soapmaking will help me improve my hygiene both in school and even at home," said Julia.

We asked Julia 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 closing of schools due to COVID-19 was the worst time in my schooling. We went home unprepared and this disoriented our studies. Being a day school, there were no online classes to keep us on track. We were at home with many other students, but could not even catch up with them, for we were at different levels. The system was altered. Thus, we were made to repeat a year."

"What I missed most was the fellowship that we had during group discussions, lessons, and meals that we share. This always united us and gave us the opportunity to build on our friendship. The opportunity given to us to go back to school has made me feel good. This is because school life is an amazing journey which gives life humor."

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!

July, 2021: Friends Secondary School Tombo Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Friends Secondary School Tombo 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: Girls' Education More Accessible!

August, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Friends Secondary School Tombo in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Ruth. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Friends Secondary School Tombo 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!

"Previously, it was so challenging to get water from this school," 17-year-old student Ruth W. said. "Because at break time, I and my classmates were being sent to fetch water outside the school compound for domestic use in school. [But what we collected] was not enough for the whole school, thus leading us to [go] back several times, fetching water almost the whole day."

But now that there is a rain tank at Ruth's school, things are different for her and the other students.

"[The rain tank] has impacted me positively because there is no more wastage of time looking for water outside the school compound, which was so tiresome and [was] leading me to miss some lessons, thus resulting [in] poor academic performance. Since the tank was implemented, I am now enjoying [the] water anytime I want because water is available," said Ruth.

"My goals were to improve in my academic performance, which has now come through because [there is] no more wastage of time looking for water outside the school. Thus [I am now] enjoying safe, clean water," said Ruth. "I thank you for ensuring water is available in this institution [so] that young girls like me [can be] concentrating in studies because education is [the] key to success."

Ruth (left) with our staff member Nelly at the 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 Friends Secondary School Tombo 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 Friends Secondary School Tombo – 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.


11 individual donor(s)