Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 315 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/10/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

The area around Friends School Demesi Secondary is vegetatively covered with trees, shrubs, and grasses. The school lies within a small tea plantation owned by the neighborhood. The area is also known for small-scale agricultural practices such as maize, vegetables, and beans. Friends School Demesi Secondary was established in 1975 by the community through Harambee, the Kenyan tradition of community-based fundraising and self-help activities to better the goals of the group. The school was later enrolled as a government school and has the Friends Church as a sponsor.

The main water source the school relies on for their 291 students and 24 staff is a hand-dug well with a handpump located on school grounds. Though the location of the water point is a plus for the school, the well runs dry after being used for too long a period each day, and during the dry season each year. When this happens, the only other water source the school has is a tiny plastic rain tank that runs dry faster than the well due to its small volume compared to the students' needs. Since these two sources are not enough to solve the water challenges at the school, the administration is forced to buy water from private vendors who take advantage of the demand and over-price their water without disclosing its origin or assuring its quality.

The well also has visible cracks that are big enough for surface runoff, soil particles, and other contaminants to penetrate the water below ground, making the water risky for consumption. Adding to this, one of the school's pit latrines is within 50 meters of the well, which is below the standard for safe distances between drinking water points and sources of human fecal contamination. Severe illnesses can result from drinking contaminated water, especially when E. coli is present.

When there is a water shortage, the school lunch program is not prepared on time, hence affecting the afternoon class schedule. The frequent water shortages also prevent the students from carrying out basic hygiene practices effectively, including handwashing, cleaning their latrines, or washing the classrooms.

"We really need additional water sources in our school. My students need to have a conducive environment for studying, and how do we create that environment? We ensure there is sufficient water to cater to hygienic activities and other purposes," said Deputy Principal Madam Margaret Adhiambo.

"The water shortage affects us as students in so many ways. When there is a water shortage, we get to class late waiting for water from the vendors to do our daily cleaning. The money used to buy water is added to our school fees, posing a burden to our parents and guardians," explained pupil Milly.

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

November, 2021: Friends School Demesi Secondary Project Complete!

Friends Demesi Secondary 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.

Vincent S., a student, said, "Definitely, life will change. Access to water will now be simple and easier, enabling saving time for studies and other activities. This water point will help me achieve high academic performance in class, and [the] hygiene of the school [will] improve. The classes will be washed at least twice a week due to [the] availability of sufficient water."

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

Mr. Simon Wakwabubi said, "My goal has always been [to] see these students excel in physics and math. My plan is now to ensure the candidates perform well in their exams. As a teacher, I won't expect an excuse from students about wasting time looking for water. My students will attend classes on time, and that is my happiness."

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, Amos Emisiko, Samuel Simidi, and Elvis Afuya deployed to the site to lead the event. Eighteen (18) students and teachers attended the training, 9 females and 9 males.

The deputy principal with help from the teacher on duty helped mobilize participants from various classes. The training was held under a tree and the participants were prepared to learn and curious.

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.

Soapmaking was a memorable topic, and participants found it very interesting. Every student wanted to take part in the process and get instructions from the trainers. Teachers and students alike vowed to make their own soap.

Michael M., a student, shared his thoughts on the training, "[I] am grateful to have learned a lot that you have taught us, especially soap making. It is going to empower me economically and pass the knowledge to others."

We asked Michael 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 my friends so much and my teachers, especially our religious education teacher who always has interesting stories. And of course, I missed games time when we engage in clubs, activities and play football too."

He continued, "[I] am very happy, and I thank God I am moving to other classes and am sure I will finish school. Being in school is amazing, learning a lot and making friends."

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!

October, 2021: Friends School Demesi Secondary Rainwater Tank Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Friends School Demesi Secondary 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: "We now enjoy ample time in class."

May, 2023

A year ago, your generous donation helped Friends Demesi School Secondary in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Quickline. 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 School Demesi Secondary.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Friends School Demesi Secondary 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 Friends School Demesi Secondary used to have to skip school when they couldn't find enough water to bring with them.

"Before [the] installation of this tank, students used to carry water to school, especially during the drought season," said 17-year-old Quickline M. "It was tiresome, prompting students [to] abscond [from] classes, having failed to carry water to school."

But now that the school has its own rainwater catchment tank on school grounds, those days are over.

"Access to clean, safe water is never a challenge currently," Quickline said. "We now access clean water directly in the school compound. The water point has allowed students [to] enjoy ample time in school."

"As an institution, [our] level of hygiene standards has drastically improved," said teacher Gilbert Maloya. "Our classes are cleaned with water at least once per day. We have water for handwashing, cooking, and drinking. This has improved our health standards."

The availability of water has made everyday tasks so much simpler for students.

"I am able to wash my hands after using the latrines, [also] before and after eating," Quickline said. "[Our] water for drinking is not compromised. We are able to treat our drinking water. This has led to [a] decrease in water-related infections. We now enjoy ample time in class. We no longer fetch water out[side] of the school compound."

Gilbert and Quickline at 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 Friends School Demesi Secondary 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 School Demesi Secondary – 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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42 individual donor(s)