Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 422 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jun 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/23/2024

Project Features

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Founded in 1986 by the Salvation Army Church, Emachina Primary School currently hosts 411 students and 11 teachers and staff. Despite its age, the school still has no water and very few latrines for students and staff.

Without a water source to call their own, the school depends primarily on a borehole well in the community. But the well is the main source for the entire village, meaning the students can easily overrun the place and cause major delays for the adults - and often their own families - at home. Long queues at the well also mean more missed class time for the students, who are typically forced to wait until all of the community members have fetched water first. Teachers say it is not uncommon for students to fight with one another over their place in line, sometimes leading to injuries.

"Sometimes pupils are forced to miss lessons at the expense of looking for water, which affects syllabus coverage, leading to poor performance among the pupils," said teacher Wycliffe Shikwati. Teachers agreed that their pupils' performance is typically at or below average, making them uncompetitive with other schools at their level and limiting the students' future opportunities.

When the well breaks down, the school is left without a water source even nearby. At these times, they require students to carry water from home or fetch it from a large river in the village, the latter of which is unquestionably unfit for human consumption. During the rainy season, the river floods and surges, making access to it a dangerous matter for the students.

Student Britton said that carrying water from home is always cumbersome. At the same time, "at the borehole, the community wants to fetch water first, making us wait for a long time before we are allowed to access water, hence missing our lessons." The tradeoff is hardly a fair one.

Sanitation is severely wanting in the school as well. This is partly due to their lack of water for regular cleaning and the meager number of latrines for the school - just six for girls and boys. All of them are almost full.

"I sometimes forego meals and even water, not because I don't want them, but because of the same reason that I will have trouble as to where to relieve myself because our latrines are just pathetic!" said teacher Madam Awino.

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

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

Currently, the youngest pupils have to share a latrine with the teachers. Several latrines have missing doors, falling-in roofs and are almost full. There are far too few latrines for the number of students.

2 triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with 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

All primary and secondary schools are currently closed in Kenya due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are scheduled to reopen in January 2021. Once classes resume, we will schedule a training session with students, teachers, and parents. This intensive 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: Emachina Primary School Rain Tank is Complete!

Emachina 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 will not be going far to look for water, and this will enable me to have enough time for my studies. I purpose to work hard in my studies and pass exams and become a teacher in the future," said Timothy K.

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

"Being the chairman of the board and a parent of this school, access to reliable and safe water will really help. I will no longer be stressed by the challenges we've faced due to a lack of water. Our children will now have enough time to learn and pass exams. This has been an eye-opener that as a school, we can achieve so many other things. I plan to reinforce the school's fence and put up a gate," said Iddi Okere Akunda.

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.

The school headteacher and the board chair were so grateful, saying the water project has really changed the school and its appearance and perception.

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 deployed to the site to lead the event. Fifteen students and teachers attended the training, which we held.

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.

One of the classrooms was set aside as the venue for training. Teachers, community-based leaders, and students from several classes attended.

"Through this training, I have learned that I can avoid being sick by keeping myself and my environment clean. This new knowledge will help me live healthily and always be in school to learn and improve my performance," said Lucy.

We asked Lucy 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 learning most while school was closed. I feel good that I can now learn and go to the next grade."

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: Emachina Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Emachina 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: Students Have Time to Focus on Studies!

July, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emachina 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 Emachina Primary School last year, the water situation was challenging to say the least. Students relied on a community well that was overcrowded and far from the school.

A year ago, we spoke to teacher Wycliffe Shikwati, who said, "Sometimes pupils are forced to miss lessons at the expense of looking for water, which affects syllabus coverage, leading to poor performance among the pupils."

Timothy, a 13-year-old student at Emachina whom we recently spoke to, echoed what Wycliffe said.

"I wasted more time going a distance to fetch water," Timothy said.

But now, things have changed for Timothy. "There is no more queuing at the water point when we are fetching water," he said.

Timothy and other students have regained valuable time that they can use to concentrate on other important things, like learning. Timothy said, "[I plan] to be focused on my studies and not wasting a lot of time going for water."

Timothy (fourth boy from the left) with other students 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 Emachina 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 Emachina 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.