Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 136 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/09/2024

Project Features

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Mahola Mixed Secondary School began in 2012 with just fifteen students in total. For two years, the nascent secondary school was housed within a single classroom located at Mahola Primary School. In 2014, the national government through the County Development Funds built four unique classrooms for the secondary school on their own land adjacent to the primary school. Today, the secondary school serves 120 students and 16 teachers and staff with several more classrooms and buildings since established on their property. As a community engagement and service activity, the students participate in a monthly cleaning of the nearby Mahola Market.

The only water source at Mahola Secondary is a seasonal well. That means that each dry season, in addition to whenever the well dries up simply from a high daily rate of use, the school has to purchase water from vendors whose sources are unknown and assumed to be unsafe. The school sometimes asks students to bring water from home, which is a particular challenge for high school students who need to come to school with many books.

"I hate when I have to bring water from home. It's cumbersome for me," said student Felicia.

When students bring water from home, they often arrive to class already tired from the burdensome walk. During the day, when students are sent back out for more water, classtime is interrupted and students' academic performance suffers. Sometimes students choose to skip their afternoon lessons just so that they do not have to fetch water again.

When the school runs out of water, all aspects of school life are affected. Basic hygiene and sanitation including handwashing and washing the latrines have to be sacrificed, and the school's lunch program gets disrupted.

"It's a challenge for me as a deputy principal when the food program delays as there is unrest and murmuring, and a delay in school programs," explained Dalton Omuto.

Stomach-related diseases are commonly reported among students here, driving high rates of absenteeism. The school suspects the water students find along the way to school, and the water from the vendors, is to blame.

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 that will be used by the school’s students and staff for drinking, handwashing, cooking, cleaning, and much more.

We and the school 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 will help to 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 to do so.

The student health club will oversee the 2 new handwashing stations we will provide, and make sure 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. All of these new latrines will have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and to 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, and 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 a variety of 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 at home. We will also lead lectures, group discussions, and provide illustrative handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good hygiene practices within the school including handwashing and water treatment. We will then conduct a series of follow-up trainings before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Project Updates

November, 2021: Mahola Mixed Secondary School Project Complete!

Mahola Mixed 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.

"Now that we have water in school, I'll have more time to concentrate on my school work rather than spending time looking for water as before. This is a great opportunity for me to improve on my grades," said Felecia M., an 18-year-old student.

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

Teacher Peter Sumbi commented, "Access to reliable safe water will reduce the spread of waterborne diseases which was a major reason for absenteeism among students resulting in very poor performance which had really demotivated us. This will make us improve and also be a major boost in hygiene and time management."

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, Jacque, Elvine, Joyce, deployed to the site to lead the event. Sixteen (16) students and teachers attended the training, which we held in a laboratory. The room is well ventilated and spacious enough to hold fifty students but due to COVID-19, we limited the number of students in attendance to safely follow protocols.

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.

During the COVID-19 session, one student raised her hand to answer the question about myths and rumors relating to the virus. She shared the myth that one glass of the local brew called "chang'aa" will kill the virus in the body. This left everyone in laughter but was important so the facilitator could verify that alcohol was not the solution to prevent COVID and that students should practice the prevention measures they learned through the training.

"The training has been valuable to me in such a way that I have been equipped with sufficient knowledge about hygiene. This will be of much significance to me wherever I go and also to my fellow students and parents back home because it will help me create awareness in various places concerning hygiene," shared Edwin W., an 18-year-old student and treasurer of the student health club.

Student, Stella M., commented about the training, "It was very valuable to me because the knowledge I have gained about COVID-19 has enabled me to be much informed about where, when, and how it came about. The training has impacted me positively in terms of educating me on the importance [of] cleanliness in order to avoid contracting the virus. Following the COVID-19 protocols was emphasized which I believe will be of much help to me."

We asked Stella 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.

"Schools closing due to COVID-19 came as a major challenge to me since my studies were greatly affected. I had to study from home where there are so many distractions and no conducive environment for studying. It was really hard following the study routine as I always do in school. This led to a drop in my grades which was devastating."

Stella M

"I'm overjoyed about coming back to school as it is an answered prayer for me. I'm ready to work extra hard in order to cover whatever I had lost during the time schools had been closed."

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!

September, 2021: Mahola Mixed Secondary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Mahola Mixed Secondary 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: Safety and Dignity for Girls!

February, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Mahola Mixed Secondary 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 Mahola Mixed Secondary School last year, students would have to leave school grounds on a regular basis to fetch water from dubious sources. This sent them out of class while fetching water and kept them out of class when they inevitably got sick from drinking it.

"I can say without shame it was so tiresome, especially for us young ones or lower classes," said 15-year-old student Margaret. "We did all the heavy lifting on water. We used to go for water from a nearby stream if the well dried up. Sometimes, we could even go during our break time, hence [you had] no time for grabbing something for your stomach."

But now that the school has its own high-capacity rain tank within the school campus, all those difficulties are over.

"Getting water is so much easier," Margaret said. "First of all, the water point is located in the school compound, and that's safer since [the] majority of the water points we depended on were in bushes, and for us girls, we could not go alone. We had to go in a group for safety. Now, we are safe and have plenty of water."

One of the biggest things for Margaret has been maintaining her menstrual hygiene, which is a huge factor in girls' education during their teen years.

"Me, as a lady, I can [clean myself] during my monthly days," Margaret said. "I don't go home during breaks because [my home] is far [away]. Now, with water, I can go back to class feeling comfortable."

Margaret, second from the left, laughs with other girls as they rinse their lunch bowls using the tank's water.

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 Mahola Mixed Secondary 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 Mahola Mixed Secondary 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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