Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 493 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/04/2024

Project Features

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St. Benedict Emutetemo Primary School is located in the Emutetemo community, which is highly populous. Buildings surround the school, as do community members' farms, where they grow maize, sugarcane, and subsistence food crops.

Founded in 1976 and sponsored by the St. Benedict Catholic Church, the school is known for being an "academic giant" in its students' consistent top performance, leading the best pupils to continue to study at university eventually. They also have a powerful choir that competes - and wins - at the national level.

The primary schools' students and teachers' accomplishments shine brighter when they are brought into the context of the daily crises they face at school: there is no water on campus and a lack of safe latrines for the 477 students and 16 teachers and staff.

The lack of water requires students to start their school day by arriving very early to go to a protected spring in the community to fetch water. The school maintains a rotating roster that assigns classes to the spring each day, starting at 6:30 am. The spring is around .3 miles away from the school, requiring teachers to accompany the students to keep them safe and also keep them from running off for the day. The same class is expected to return to the spring to fetch water as often as necessary to meet the school's water needs. This typically amounts to six trips per day, robbing both pupils and teachers of their class time.

"I waste a lot of time fetching water when it's our turn," said Clinton, a teenaged student at the school. Clinton said that when the students who don't bring jerrycans get told to stay in class instead of going to the spring, he still feels bad. The students remain there without their teacher, and the division drives bad feelings between students who feel like some are not doing their duty to help their classmates.

"I come from Kakamega, and when I am on duty, I have to be in school by 6:50 am and ensure that I have organized the responsible class to fetch water," explained teacher Julie Okello.

"I get disappointed, especially when the students do not come with jerricans, causing the fetching of water to be slow. Some run back home while some parents refuse to give jerricans, claiming they will get lost."

At the spring, which is meant to serve families in the area, not the school, students experience hostile treatment from the adults there. Students' large numbers cause crowding and delays at the spring for community members, and the reverse causes delays in students' class schedules. The community demands the school pay for using the spring, but they have never agreed. Tension grows when students meet their own families and neighbors at the water point, putting children and adults at odds for their water needs.

Without a central storage container on campus, the water students fetch can only be stored in their personal jerricans, which are very dirty. When parents refuse to send their children with containers, it reduces the amount of water the school can collect and adds to the number of trips students must make to the spring. Sometimes students try to steal jerricans from one another, not wanting to be found without water.

Typhoid cases among teachers and students are common as a result of the dirty jerricans contaminating the water. Some teachers report headaches because they try not to drink the water, citing its questionable safety. Students say they get tired from their trips to the spring, leading to poor focus in class.

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. In fact, the teachers here decided to set up a competition among students' classes to see which class can collectively contribute the most local materials. The students are all excited about the friendly competition, they told us, as they all want to claim the winning title!

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

There is currently nowhere for students to wash their hands after using the latrines or before eating lunch, let alone the water.

The student health club will oversee the 2 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

We will construct 2 triple-door latrine blocks using local materials that the school will help gather. 3 doors will serve the girls, while the other 3 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 1-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

June, 2021: St. Benedict Emutetemo Primary School Rain Tank Complete!

St. Benedict Emutetemo Primary School 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.

"I drink a lot of water during school. At times, I had to rush to the spring or home...and then come back to school. I can now study even during some breaks as I don't have to rush out and come back again. I do have a personal timetable that I will squeeze in the extra time that the tank has provided me," said student Clinton.

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

"We have school classes like art, home science, agriculture, and science that depend on water. I bet those projects are going to flourish now since we have water in the school compound," said teacher Julie Okelo.

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 of the tank, where we also installed 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 directly following the training. 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 the installation of 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 David Muthama and Jackline Kangu deployed to the site to lead the event. Fourteen students, teachers, and community leaders attended the training.

We held the training inside one of the classrooms and also outside near the rain tank. Inside, we set up the desks at a one-meter distance to adhere to the COVID-19 rules and regulations.

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 be responsible for encouraging 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.

During the personal hygiene session, someone asked, "How often are we supposed to wash our clothes?" One of the participants explained that he thought boys are allowed to wear their dirty clothes without washing them but that girls are strictly forbidden to repeat clothes without washing. The facilitator explained both boys and girls should maintain their personal hygiene by wearing clean clothes.

"I have learned a lot, including how I should wash my clothes daily even if you are a boy, and peeing in water is wrong and unhygienic," said pupil Bernie.

"With this new knowledge, it's going to help me in convincing hard-headed students that COVID-19 is real since I've borrowed a few words and teachings from the training," explained sanitation teacher Madam Claudia Wekesa, referring to a still-commonly believed myth in the region that COVID-19 does not exist or will not impact rural communities.

We asked Madam Wekesa 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 was impacted both positively and negatively. Positively, I had a lot of time on my hands to do a few errands. Negatively, I really missed my class since we had bonded, but that bond was disconnected when they went home for a long period of time. Now we have to start all over again and earn one another's trust back."

"Since where I come from is not a hot spot [of positive COVID-19 cases], life was just moving on and the government was so generous as they still paid our salaries throughout. This enabled me to do more, and we thank God for his Mercy," she continued.

Madam Wekesa added that with the knowledge gained at training, she would try to sew some homemade face masks to distribute to students who come to school without them, as well as for her own children.

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!

May, 2021: St. Benedict Emutetemo Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Benedict Emutetemo 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 Management Easier!

August, 2022

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Benedict Emutetemo 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!

Life at St. Benedict Emutetemo Primary School used to be difficult without sufficient water.

"During break time, I used to feel hungry and could drink any water that I came across. This often resulted in infections such as stomachaches and diarrhea. It was quite tiresome getting water from the spring because it's far away," said Isaac O.

But things are different for Isaac and his classmates now.

"Whenever I feel hungry, I am able to access drinking water more easily. We no longer waste time going to the community spring to get water," said Isaac.

"The water point has helped me to manage time well. [I am able] to learn and finish assignments. Therefore, I look forward to improving my performance in class," concluded Isaac.

Isaac (left) with a friend 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 St. Benedict Emutetemo 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. Benedict Emutetemo 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.


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