Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 1,365 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/23/2024

Project Features

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St. Teresa Emakhwale Primary School was established in 1984 by the community which donated a piece of land after realizing that their children needed access to formal education. The Catholic church then decided to sponsor the school, formaing a relationship that continues today. Shortly after opening, however, the school was torched down and all the classes burnt down, forcing it to close. In 1987, the school started up once again but this time, the community came together to ensure it serves the purpose it was established to.

The school has been steadily growing and registering good performance since then, attracting a large population of students. Today, the school has a total enrollment of 1,332 students and 33 teachers and staff thanks to the joint efforts of the parents, teachers, and the students themselves.

Despite several decades of education under its belt, the students and teachers at St. Teresa Emakhwale Primary School still face a severe clean water shortage every day. The school patches together several water sources to try to meet their needs, but they still fall short.

When students come to school each morning, they must first show that they have carried water from home which is mainly used for cleaning chores at school. The students are then forced to go fetch water from a protected spring in the community which is some distance away from the school compound. Students must return to the spring at lunchtime and again at games time to fetch more water. Each trip to the spring takes away time students are meant to be in class, sitting down to eat, or enjoying a break from learning.

"Going to the spring, which is far from the school compound, makes me tired most times. We are forced, sometimes, to persevere with thirst while attending classes in the afternoon," said pupil Zarina.

"Personally, I am affected negatively. It pains me seeing students loitering outside the school compound in search of water while other students are in classes reading. And my teachers also drinking the water that we are not sure of its source makes me feel bad," said teacher Wilson Ijakaa.

Since the spring is owned by the community, the school is forced to pay for the water they collect from it. At one point there was a breakdown at the spring that needed repairs, and the school was forced to take charge of the repair work which cost it some good money. Sometimes students are chased away from the spring by community members frustrated by their presence, leaving the students to return to school with empty containers. During the dry season, the school has an even harder time as the community does not allow the students to fetch water since they claim it is their spring and the school should have nothing to do with it.

Students grow increasingly tired throughout the day after carrying full jerrycans to school so many times, costing their focus and attention in class when they return. Some students feel thirsty in the course of the day while classes are in session and then are forced to sneak out of the school to go and drink water from the spring. Sometimes the students get to school late and tired and start their classes late which disrupts their learning for some time.

The alternative water source the school uses is a small plastic rain tank. Students access the tank's water through two taps a few steps away from the tank. Though on campus, the small rain tank never comes close to meeting the needs of such a large student population, and quickly runs dry following each rain. At such a small volume, the tank sits empty through the dry season and leaves the students without water once again.

The sanitation and hygiene situation here also needs to be addressed as the school received a closure notice from the Ministry of Health due to their lack of bathroom facilities and no water available in the school compound. The latrines already on campus are not clean and smell strongly as a result of the students not having enough water to sanitize them routinely. The sanitation facilities are also too few against the number of students, and there is never any water for handwashing.

What We Can Do:

Rain Tanks

Two 75,000-liter rainwater catchment tanks will help alleviate the water crisis at this school by providing a much larger capacity than their small plastic tank to store water from the rainy season. 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, these tanks 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

The student health club will oversee the two 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 two triple-door latrine blocks using local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls, while the other three 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 one-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

November, 2021: Emakhwale Primary School Rain Tanks Complete!

Emakhwale Primary School in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their two new rain tanks! We also 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 Umil, 12, no longer has to leave school to collect water during the school day, she has free time. "I will be going to read in the library during free time to improve on my studies and become a lawyer as [I] had planned."

Umil, the future lawyer.

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

"As the health teacher, I have all the reasons to smile, because you cannot separate clean water from living a healthy life. This will help me in ensuring the school is healthy by taking care of sanitation facilities in terms of cleanliness and ensuring that we have filled the handwashing facilities always," said teacher Musa Mukoyo, 43.

Mr. Musoyo.

How We Go From Ground to Rain Tank

Construction of these two 75,000-liter rain tanks 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 the new rain tanks. 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 tanks' foundations. We cast the foundations by laying big stones on the level ground and reinforcing them using steel wire, concrete, and waterproof cement. We affixed both the drawing pipes and the drainage pipes 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 foundations' 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 tanks, we cast one central and four support pillars to ensure the domes do not cave in once cemented. Meanwhile, we plastered the inner walls while roughcasting the outer walls. We dug and plastered the access areas to the taps outside the tanks, installing short staircases. In front of the access areas, we constructed soak pits where spilled water can drain from the access area through the ground. These pits help to keep the tap areas dry and tidy.

Dome construction could begin after the tank walls settled. We attached dome skeletons of rebar, wire mesh, and sugar sacks to the tank walls before cementing and plastering them using similar techniques as the wall construction. We included small manhole covers into the domes to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.

We propped long wooden poles (about 75 of them each!) inside the tanks to support the domes while they cured. Then it was down to the finishing touches: fitting lockable covers over the tap areas, affixing the gutters to the roof and tanks, and setting overflow pipes in place at the edge of the domes for when the tanks reach capacity.

Once finished, we gave the rain tanks three to four weeks to undergo complete curing. Finally, we removed the interior support poles and dome sugar sacks and cleaned the tanks.

We officially handed over the rain tanks 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.

The students were very happy to have been given two tanks at their school and demonstrated their joy by celebrating at the water point. The sanitation teacher, Mr. Mukoyo, and the field officer led the students in the tank dedication.

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 two rain tanks 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, Adelaide, Elvine, and Protus deployed to the site to lead the event. Fifteen (15) students and teachers attended the training, which we held in a spacious classroom.

Students actively engaged in the training.

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 session on COVID-19, the trainer asked participants to name some symptoms of COVID-19. Angela, a student, said one symptom was severe hunger. The students were all amused and told her it was not a symptom of COVID-19.

And when asked about myths that they have heard about COVID-19, one of the students said that COVID-19 only affects the elderly. The trainer explained to them that the disease affects everyone and explained the importance of following the measures put in place by the Ministry of Health.

"The training was valuable because I have learned new things about cleanliness and will teach other students," said Freza, 15.


"I was able to learn new COVID-19 measures and I will apply the measures to avoid getting the disease," said Hellen, age 12 and member of the Child Health Club.


We asked Hellen 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 felt bad. I lost a lot of time at home just sitting without studying. I missed a lot [of] my classmates. I missed the Mathematics lessons and even the school."

Now that she is back to school, she said, "I feel so good being back in school because [I] am able to continue with my studies."

When an issue arises concerning the rain tanks, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water points work 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!

October, 2021: St. Teresa Emakhwale Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at St. Teresa Emakhwale 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: No more hating life!

December, 2022

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help St. Teresa Emakhwale 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!

The students of St. Teresa Emakhwale Primary School used to carry water to school each morning and then leave their school campus again during the day to collect more water from a source several miles away. They were exhausted and missing valuable learning time.

"Going to the river was quite tedious and risky," said 10-year-old student Laureen S.

"Walking long distances while carrying water was quite tedious and cumbersome for me. I hated that kind of life," said another student, 12-year-old Brian O., who echoed Laureen's frustration.

Teacher Mr. Musa said, "It was very tedious to both the learners and teachers. It was risky sending the learners to get water from unknown sources outside [of the] school. There was also wasting of time because the learners were [required] to walk long distances to get water."

But last year, the school had two rain tanks installed, and since then, thankfully, things have been different.

"I can easily access water within the school compound without much struggle. [I] am very happy," Laureen said.

"I am able to concentrate on my studies [rather] than thinking about going for water," Brian concurred.

"My [time] with learners has increased, and therefore, I am able to complete [the] syllabus in time," concluded Mr. Musa.

With easier access to water, students and teachers have more time together in the classroom, and who knows how bright the future might be for students like Laureen and Brian?

Students celebrating at one of the rain tanks.

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. Teresa Emakhwale 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. Teresa Emakhwale 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.


Project Underwriter - H2O for Life
9 individual donor(s)