Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 588 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Aug 2021

Functionality Status:  Low/No Water or Mechanical Breakdown

Last Checkup: 03/19/2024

Project Features

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It's 6:00 am, and the 571 students and 17 teachers are already streaming into Petros Primary School. By 7:00 am, when enough pupils have gathered, the teachers give the group their first assignment of the day - but it has nothing to do with learning. Instead, the first task every day at Petros Primary School is securing enough water to meet the morning's drinking and cooking needs.

Depending on the time of year, this morning routine changes according to which water sources are currently available to the school. There is a hand-dug well on campus with a pump, but the well was not dug very deep into the earth. That means during the dry seasons, the well dries up, and students have to look for water elsewhere. The school has to share the well with the community anyway - attempts to secure the well for the school's sole use resulted in vandalism from community members trying to access it. So, when there is water, students are at odds with community members - and sometimes their own parents - who also need to collect water.

Additionally, the well has a large hole in the cement that leads straight from the ground down to the water. The school recently placed some bricks over the hole, but the well is still not sealed. The water, as a result, is contaminated from the surface water, dirt, and anything else from the ground that falls into the well.

When there is no water in the well, students have to come to school carrying water from home to start their school day.

"When the water at the school dries, we are forced to carry water from home every morning. It is tiresome to carry water and books at the same time. Sometimes, we become sick because of drinking dirty water at school," said student Hellen.

Students' "home" water can come from many sources, including puddles or even the large and muddy River Lusumu that runs through the community. Students sometimes choose these dirty sources simply because they are on the road to school, lessening their burden and helping them get to class on time. Even if some students collected clean and safe water, their dirty containers could contaminate it. And, because water is combined for use at school, even one contaminated source means everyone can suffer.

"Being the head of the school, I have to handle the cases of student illnesses by taking the student to the hospital, and that is too expensive because the parents say that the child has fallen sick on the school grounds, so the school has to cater to the treatment of the child. Learning is being interfered with when students waste time fetching water, and that has made the school performance drop," explained Headteacher Tom C. Kipyeko.

Morning is not the only time students are sent out for water. During the lunch break, teachers have to send students back out to fetch more water for afternoon use. On Fridays, the school tries to maintain a general cleaning routine, which is hindered by the lack of water and can take a long time. This eats into the remedial classes the school holds in the evening.

As Headteacher Kipyeko said, with all the time and energy students waste on fetching water each school day, their academic performance worsens. Frequent cases of diarrhea and stomachaches from drinking the water at school drive absenteeism, exacerbating these issues and draining both the school and parents of their financial resources.

It is time for a change at Petros Primary School.

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

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

August, 2021: Petros Primary School Project Complete!

Petros 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.

One of the school's students, Hellen O., said the tank "will help [her] to drink water, because it's clean." She also said she would have more time for studying because she wouldn't have to spend so much time fetching water every day. She is looking forward to performing better in school.

Hellen at the water tank.

Hellen is the chair of the school's newly formed student health club. She said she will spread the word about hygiene to her fellow students.

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

"My learners will no longer have to look for water," said Tom Kipyeko, a teacher at Petros. "Hygiene will improve a lot. We hope to achieve good results from students."

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, Emmah Nambuye, Jacque Kangu, and Elvine Ekesa, deployed to the site to lead the event. Twenty students and teachers attended the training, which we held in a classroom at the school. We selected three students from every class to attend.

Training facilitators noted that the students at Petros Primary School were "very lively."

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.

For the students, the most memorable topic was bodily hygiene. The facilitator urged the participants to bathe despite the cold weather.

Hellen piped in with: "If you don't bathe, you will smell and people will avoid you."

After the training, the students elected Hellen to lead their newly formed student health club (how could they not, with such wise words?).

The health 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.

"I now know the importance of using soap," said training participant, Remigius (Remy) M. "It will help me be clean always."

"Through this project, we are now able to make soap, so cleanliness will improve," added teacher, Tom Kipyeko.

Another student, Lenah, said that the training will aid her in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in her community. "I will enforce handwashing and mask-wearing. I have observed how to take care of myself to avoid infection of corona. I will take some knowledge home so that we are not infected."

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.

A COVID-friendly greeting.

We asked Lenah 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 really felt bad, because I was forced to repeat classes to cover the syllabus," Lenah said.

Lenah also expressed she was "overwhelmed and happy" to return to lessons. "I missed going to school. I missed my friends and teachers. I also missed learning."

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.

The community and the school are very grateful.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

July, 2021: Petros Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Petros 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: Enough Time to Stay in School!

September, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Petros 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!

"As learners, we used to get tired and waste time going to [the] River Lusumu and even in the villages looking for water," said Hellen (the one wearing the darkest blue sweater in the group photo).

"I no longer get tired carrying water from home every morning," shared Hellen. "Since the project was done, I've never been absent because of being sick due to dirty water."

With easily accessible water, students like Hellen now have more time and energy, so their academics have the opportunity to improve, and other interests can expand.

"I am happy I have enough time to stay in school and learn. Nowadays, I have enough time for my class work, and so I don't carry assignments home," concluded Hellen.

Hellen is all smiles.

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 Petros 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 Petros 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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