Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 198 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Jul 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 09/06/2023

Project Features

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Epanja Secondary School was established in 2013 through the Constituency Development Funds under the sponsorship of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK). In 2016, the school saw their first student admitted to university and several others joined the middle-level colleges. Still a relatively young school, Epanja Secondary currently serves 180 students and 18 teachers and staff.

Yet, the school lacks sufficient and reliable water, impacting the daily class schedule. Thair lack of water combined with a recent condemnation of the girls' latrines led to the school receiving a verbal warning from the Ministry of Health, urging the school to improve their water and hygiene situation or risk complete closure this year.

The school's main water source is a very small plastic rain tank. The school accesses the rain tank's water through several taps a few meters away from the tank, connected through underground hoses. Due to its small capacity, most of the year the rain tank sits dry, running out of water after only a few days once the rains subside.

Some students opt to bring water from home, but it is a burdensome choice to walk to school carrying a full jerrycan along with books every day. Hence, most students do not choose to do this. Therefore, when the tank runs dry, students must walk to a spring far away in the village to fetch water.

Students head to the spring both before their morning classes and during their lunch break to try to keep up with the entire school's drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. Still, the school falls short in its supply of water compared to the demand, and students miss precious class time on each walk and wait in line at the spring. Conflicts are also common at the spring between community members, who claim students ruin their sugarcane crops growing along the path to the spring. By the time students return to class, they are often tired and unable to focus well, affecting their performance.

"The situation affects me negatively since the water is not enough and I have to go out and fetch water during class time - I don't like it," said pupil Sharon.

The only other source of water on campus is seasonal hand-dug well, meaning it too dries up during the dry season each year. The school knows the well water is not the safest of their options, and they try to limit the well water to cleaning needs only. Students and even the school feeding program still resort to drinking the well water, however, in an effort to avoid the trek to the spring.

With water coming from several different sources, and not all of which are safe, students' risk for water-related illnesses increases. Water is combined for use at school, so even one contaminated source means everyone is at risk of getting sick. Most students report water-related diseases including typhoid and amoeba. Some have constipation because they fear using the water in school, leading to dehydration. The teachers, too, have complained of contracting typhoid. Some of students' home water sources are unknown, and many students have developed a phobia of drinking the water their peers collect.

"Sometimes, I go without drinking water as the ferrying of the water is unsafe and I suspect it, especially when the captured rainwater finishes," said teacher Khayiya Nyongesa, echoing the students' fear of the various water sources' safety.

When students get sick, they miss more class time, and their families lose their financial resources to their children's medical treatment. Some students even skip their afternoon lessons, deciding once they get to the spring that they do not have the energy to walk back to school with their water.

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

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

The school had to demolish the girls' latrines in late 2020 as they had collapsed and posed a danger for the students. A new block of latrines that were intended for the boys is now being shared with the girls, leaving the girls without a latrine block designated only for their use, and rendering the boys unable to use their new urinal facilities.

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

July, 2021: Epanja Secondary School Rain Tank Complete!

Epanja Secondary 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.

"The water will help me save the time I have been wasting. I will be settling in at class early. I will be able to plan and have enough time to study. I will have good health. I want to become a doctor. Through this water, I will be able to achieve my dream," said Valentine.

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

"The new waterpoint will help me have an easier time with the students in class. There will be 100 percent school attendance, and there will be no form of delays in entering class. There will be enough water in the kitchen, and timely meals will lead to finishing the syllabus on time. Thus I will score good grades and raise the school's mean score. I will also ensure our school clubs partner to start an irrigation initiative to have enough vegetables to sell to the school," said sanitation teacher Wakhungu Mark.

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 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 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.

Field Officer Protus noted, "Epanja secondary school was so happy to have water on their school compound. The school being new has a large challenge in terms of infrastructure. Having a water tank for them is a huge achievement. They have said they will capitalize on the blessings they have received to make good classwork scores. The CTC club patron who is Mr. Wakhungu Mark, has said he will ensure the school club is vibrant and active. They have excellent plans to ensure they get the best out of the water tank. They faced so many challenges and are very happy that some of them have been solved because of the provision of water to their school."

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.

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
e 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, Adelaide, and Protus deployed to the site to lead the event. Twelve students and teachers attended the training, which we held outside the classrooms under a tree.

The venue was conducive for the training since it allowed the participants to keep physical distance, observing all the COVID-19 protocols stipulated by the Ministry of Health.

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.

One of the most memorable topics was water management and handling. During this session, the trainer asked the participants how often they change their drinking water. The participants were shocked that water needs to be changed. Bridget said they drink water until it becomes exhausted, but they do not change it. The trainer told them that drinking water needs to be changed after three days and pots cleaned well.

"The training was so useful to me as the new knowledge will help me improve on my personal hygiene and health," said student Joseph J.

"The training has been useful for me. The knowledge will help me be more careful to avoid contracting COVID-19," said Philip, a student.

We asked Philip 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 the flower gardens of the school. I missed my fellow students and my teachers the most. I feel so good because I am now able to embark on my education and recover what I had lost while at home."

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!

June, 2021: Epanja Secondary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Epanja 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: Saving Time That Was Once Wasted

August, 2022

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Epanja 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!

"Getting water then was very difficult since we could crowd at the water point that was not reliable," said Sharon, an 18-year-old student at Epanja Secondary School, when describing life for students last year related to the water situation.

But we installed a large rain tank at her school, and now things are different for Sharon and her fellow students. Fetching water doesn't take much time at all, so students don't encounter lines of others waiting for water like they used to.

"It [is] now easy to get water since we do not crowd at the water point as we used to. I am now able to save time during lunchtime and even in the morning," shared Sharon when discussing how life has changed.

"I have been able to dedicate enough time to my class work and assignments. I am saving time I used to waste," concluded Sharon.

Sharon (right) with field officer Protus (collecting water) and teacher Brian Mulama.


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 Epanja 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 Epanja 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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