Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 640 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2022

Functionality Status:  Water Flowing - Needs Attention

Last Checkup: 05/07/2024

Project Features

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Sugarcane, beans, maize, bananas, and sweet potatoes grow on neighboring farms surrounding the Silungai Primary School in Western Kenya.

The 620 students and 20 teachers of Silungai Primary School need a reliable, clean water source to meet the school's daily drinking, cooking, and cleaning needs. They currently have no water source at the school so students collect water from various sources in the community and carry it from home each day.

Teachers send students to a nearby stream to collect additional water during the school day because they inevitably run out and do not have enough to meet the day's needs. The stream used near the school is fast-moving and dangerous for students when collecting water (as seen below).

"We are not able to wash our hands often, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic period. This endangers our health. Sending my pupils to fetch water from different sources during lesson time highly interferes with my teaching, thus making the syllabus drag," shared Protus Mwatuni.

Sending pupils to fetch water during the school day interferes with the lesson schedule and delays academic progress. Another contributing factor that slows academic progress is illnesses like typhoid and diarrhea that teachers and students experience from drinking contaminated water.

"I hate it when teachers call on us to fetch water for school use when my favourite subject is ongoing," said Sheila A.

What We Can Do:

Rain Tanks

Two 75,000-liter rainwater catchment tanks 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, these tanks 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 lead to better student academic performance and help to 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 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

Two triple-door latrine blocks will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather—one block for girls and one for boys. All of these new latrines will have cement floors that are designed to be easy to use and clean. And with two rain tanks 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 and teachers. 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 tanks, 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, like 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

March, 2022: Silungai Primary School Rainwater Tanks Complete!

Silungai Primary School in Kenya now has access to safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tanks! 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.

"No more walking in the hot sun fetching water for school use. I am facing my final examination in a few months' time [and] with water available in my school now, I'll be able to pass with flying colors," said Sheila A., 14.

Sheila collecting water.

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

Teacher Protus Mwatuni, 40, said, "I truly believe that with 150,000 liters of water in our school, there is no single day our pupils will lack water. I'll be able to finish the syllabus of my respective subjects on time. With the pupils in class full time, no more time will be wasted."

Mr. Mwatuni splashing water.

How We Go From Ground to Rain Tank

Construction for 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.

Building a foundation.

Then, we cleared the site by excavating the soil to make level ground for the tank 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 of the drawing pipes and the drainage pipes as we laid the foundations.

Wire walls were added to the foundations.

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 sides until six cement layers were in place. (The sugar sacks are removed once the interiors receive their first two layers of cement.)

Pouring concrete into the pillar molds.

Inside the tanks, we cast one central and four support pillars each 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 areas through the ground. The pits help keep the tap area dry and tidy.

Plastering the roof over the wire frame.

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 small manhole covers into the domes to allow access for future cleanings and water treatments.

We propped long wooden poles (about 75 of them!) inside each of 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.

A tank curing.

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.

Students are excited about water.

Field Officer, Lillian Achieng', shared that the determination and zeal displayed by this school's management, teachers, parents, and pupils were commendable. Despite the many challenges with collecting enough local resources for the two tanks, they worked hard to ensure success.

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, facilitators Lillian, Olivia, Baverlyne, and Dominic deployed to the site to lead the event. 23 students and teachers attended the training, which we held under some eucalyptus trees growing on the school campus since every classroom was in use.

The training officers informed the Head Teacher in advance about the training and asked him to help recruit participants. Attendance for the training was higher than expected, and some participants had to be sent back to class to make sure participants could still physically distance to follow the COVID 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.

Learning about tank maintenance.

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.

A memorable session was soapmaking, where participants learned the entire process. One of the school's teachers, who was not a participant initially, was so excited to learn how to make soap that they abandoned their class that was in session. The end product amazed everyone. They decided they would share what they had learned.

Valeria M., 11, said, "The training has really impacted so much knowledge in me. I can now make soap if equipped with the reagents. I can correctly wash my hands now."


Valeria was also appointed chairperson of the student health club and shared, "To juice it all up, I am now a leader of a club in my school. This has given me so much confidence."

"I will encourage my fellow pupils who did not attend this training to wear their masks so that we can protect each other. I will also wash my hands often with soap. Initially, I used to wash without soap. I never understood the importance of using it, but now I do," said Emmanuel M., 10.

Students planting trees.

We asked Emmanuel 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 my school friends so much. I also missed my teachers and the lessons we learn."

Now that he is back at school, he said, "I am happy that I can play and study with my friends again. My teachers are also present to help me with my academics and that makes me happy."

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!

February, 2022: Silungai Primary School Rain Tank Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Silungai 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: Safe Access to Water!

June, 2023

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Silungai 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!

Esther J., 12, recalled what life was like at Silungai Primary School before her school’s rainwater tanks were installed last year.

"We were going for water from a spring which we shared with the local community. This resulted in pupils [and] community [members having] conflict that escalated and became a threat to us," Esther said.

But life is much safer for Esther and the other students in Silungai Primary School now.

"We are now getting water so close to us. The manhole is usually locked to control water usage, and this enables the water to last longer," she continued.

Having ready access to water from the rainwater tanks has made a difference for Esther, allowing her to collect water quickly and use her time for other important things.

"[I] am now in school throughout [the day]. I have water to drink, [to] wash utensils in, [to] use in school, and also to clean my classroom. Whenever [I] am thirsty, all I need is permission from the teacher, and I access water adjacent to my class," Esther concluded.

Thank you for helping Esther access clean water, which allows her to attend school regularly and increases her sense of safety, as she no longer has to worry about water access conflicts with the community.

Right now, there are others just like her in neighboring communities that desperately need safe water access. Your support will immediately go to work to provide a clean water project - and we can’t wait to introduce you to the next person you’ll help.


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 Silungai 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 Silungai 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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