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The Water Project : 1-kenya4600-school-mailbox

Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status:  Functional

"I thank God for remembering us through The Water Project and WEWASAFO because for a longer period of time, we have been forgotten."

Benson Anima

Community Profile & Stories

This project is a part of our shared program with Western Water And Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO). Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).

Background Information

Essumba Primary School was founded in 1956 by the community and the ACK Church in Essumba Village, Emabwi sub-location, Embali/Ebukanga location, West Bunyore ward, Emuhaya sub-county of Vihiga County. The school has a population of 375 boys, 392 girls, seven male teachers and seven female teachers. The early education section has 25 boys and 28 girls taught by three female teachers. The school also has one cook, one office messenger who doubles as a groundsman and two security guards. This puts the total school population at 841.

(Editor’s Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

The school is located in a very poor community of subsistence farmers. Other livelihoods include small-scale businesses. This is thus a poor school with a high rate of absenteeism due to failure to pay fees. Some parents give their children too much work at home or on a farm, since children are the cheapest labor available. It is important to note that Essumba Primary School is surrounded by people of different tribes, resulting in tribal clashes that often affect the entire school.

Classrooms are overcrowded and the compound is too small for its population. “The pupils do not have a playground, and the congestion in classes leads to quick spreading of contagious diseases like flu and tuberculosis,” said the head teacher. “Many girls have dropped out of school as a result of early pregnancy, and I suppose they were impregnated on their way to the spring, since it was hard for teachers and parents to supervise them closely when they go to fetch water.”

The Current Source

Essumba Primary School has two plastic tanks, a 4000-liter and 3000-liter. Even if these are full from heavy rains, they do not yield nearly enough water for a school population of 841 people.

Access to clean, safe water is a big challenge for this school. Pupils are asked to fetch water from a nearby spring, which distracts students from academics. This also endangers the lives of female students who are exposed to the enticement of young men, especially motorbike cyclists. There have also been numerous cases of typhoid and diarrhea both among students and teachers.

Sanitation Situation

The school has 16 pit latrines: two for teachers and the support staff, eight doors for boys and six for girls. This does not meet the World Health Organization recommendation of one door per 30 boys and one per 25 girls. Pupils have to queue during breaks to use those facilities, which leads to a great waste of time that was meant for class work.

New pit latrines are needed to save the extra minutes spent by pupils in line to use the sanitation facilities. The school compound is filthy with poor disposal of waste, a clear signal that hygiene and sanitation training will be indispensable. Furthermore, the head teacher welcomed the project and has agreed to mobilize parents to gather the locally available materials for construction of latrines and a 30,000-liter rainwater catchment tank. Locally available materials include sand, ballast, empty sugar sacks, hardcore, bricks, and poles. This institution is also in desperate need of hand-washing facilities since the current washing tank is far from latrines, and most pupils conveniently run to class after using the latrines instead of taking the effort to wash hands.

Training Sessions

Training will be held for two days. The facilitator will use PHAST (participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation), ABCD (asset-based community development), CTC (child to child), lectures, group discussions, and handouts to teach health topics and ways to promote good practices within the school. The CTC method will prepare students to lead other students into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school.

Project Results: Training

Hygiene and sanitation training was held in a classroom at the school. The head teacher was notified of the schedule so that he could mobilize training participants, including students, teachers, and parents. He chose both female and male students of various grades and ages. In total, there were ten participants comprised of two teachers, two parents, and six students. All ten actively participated during each training session. A goal of the hygiene and sanitation training was to develop CTC (child to child) encouraged by teacher and practiced by students. CTC is based on the belief that children have the greatest influence on their peers, and thus have the power to transform schools and greater communities. The development of these students will also result in the formation of a CTC club which purposes to take responsibility for hygiene and sanitation, and promote good health in the student body.

Topics covered included but were not limited to:

  • Resource mobilization
  • Leadership
  • Healthcare
  • Operation and maintenance of VIP latrines and the rainwater catchment tank
  • Disease transmission and prevention
  • Water pollution and control
  • Water treatment

The facilitator used demonstrations, group discussions, lectures, and illustrations to teach those topics and more. Participants were very grateful for what they learned. 11-year-old student Tabitha Okiya said, “I am happy to be chosen to represent the school in this training. I will use the knowledge have gained to teach my friends!”

VIP Latrines: Construction of two triple-door VIP latrines is complete and are now in use.

Hand-Washing Stations

Two hand-washing stations were delivered and installed, and are now in use by students. Because of the pupils’ training on proper procedures for hand washing, both boys and girls alike are happy to wash hands and demonstrate their knowledge for others.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

Construction for this 30,000-liter rainwater catchment tank began on February 1st. The process began with site clearance, setting and casting the foundational slab, construction of the wall, roofing, and installation of fittings such as delivery pipes, vent pipes, and screens. Finally, good drainage was ensured.

The community provided many materials that were used to build the structure, such as bricks, sand, hardcore, ballast, sugar sacks, and poles. The school also made sure that the construction team was taken care of well, providing both meals and accommodation.

With the tank now complete, it can begin to gather rainwater. Good timing, because it is currently the rainy season in Kenya! A father of one of Essumba Primary’s students, Benson Anima, said “I thank God for remembering us through The Water Project and WEWASAFO because for a longer period of time, we have been forgotten.” Local leadership has acknowledged this improvement and pledged their own support to improve Essumba Primary School. Leadership will ensure that there are enough classrooms and facilities for the growing student body, and that every basic need is provided as soon as possible.

Thank You for your generosity that unlocks potential for students of Essumba Primary School!

Recent Project Updates

05/16/2016: Essumba Primary School Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the students and staff of Essumba Primary School in Kenya have a new source of safe, clean water. A new rainwater catchment system and new latrines have been built. Two hand-washing stations have been installed, and the students and community have received training in sanitation and hygiene. Just imagine the difference these resources will make in the lives of these students! We just updated the project page with the latest details, including pictures.

The Water Project and Essumba Primary School Thank You for unlocking potential!

The Water Project : 3-kenya4600-complete

02/15/2016: Essumba Primary School Project Underway

We are excited to announce that, thanks to your willingness to help, Essumba Primary School in Kenya will soon have a new source of safe, clean water. A rainwater catchment system is being constructed and the community will receive training in sanitation and hygiene. Together these resources will go a long way toward stopping the spread of disease in the area. We just posted an initial report including information about the school, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the project continues.

Take a look, and Thank You for your help!

The Water Project : 1-kenya4600-school-mailbox

Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment
Location:  Vihiga County, Emuhaya, Bunyore, Embali, Emabwi, Essumba Village
ProjectID: 4600
Install Date:  05/11/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 05/29/2017

Visit History:
03/18/2016 — Functional
06/06/2016 — Functional
12/15/2016 — Functional
02/28/2017 — Functional
05/29/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Essumba Primary School

August, 2017

The sanitation standard has increased as water from the tank is used to wash latrines and classrooms. Time wasted when going to the spring is now used profitably in class. This has also been translated into an improvement in academic performance with the school being named among the most improved in performance in Emuhaya sub-county during this year’s education day.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a rainwater catchment system, latrines, and hand washing stations for Essumba Primary School in Kenya. Because of these gifts and our monthly donors, partners are able to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. Because of these consistent visits, we learn vital lessons and we hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one with you from field officer Jacqueline Shigali.

“Construction of a water tank and six doors of VIP latrines was a big blessing for this community,” says Jacqueline. “Right from the gate, the school compound looks neat and trees all over the place gives it a cool breeze and fresh atmosphere. The site of a child in civilian clothes seated under one of the trees, scribbling with a pen on a piece of paper welcomes the field officers. We later learn from the head teacher that she is a new student from a neighboring school whose parent had tirelessly begged the administration to admit in class seven. Getting a chance to join Essumba Primary is now almost impossible unless one is joining baby class because of the influx of pupils since construction of the water and sanitation facilities. Every parent wants their children to go to schools with more facilities; no wonder children come here from as far as four kilometers to study, passing many other institutions on their way to Essumba. Every child looks neat and classrooms are tidy, a fact that proves how serious the knowledge learned during the CTC (child to child) training was taken.”

“We will continue sending staff members to do monitoring and evaluation of the rainwater tank,” she says. “This time will be utilized to inquire about any issues concerning the tank, sharing its successes and challenges and working together to find solutions. The staffs will also continue treating water in the tank and giving advice on how best to care for the WASH facilities. It is also important for the community members to continually understand that the reason for having that tank is to help children save time and stay healthy.”


Jacqueline had a chance to speak with Samuel Etole Astwa, compound master and the teacher in charge of WASH projects. He shared, “the sanitation standard has increased as water from the tank is used to wash latrines and classrooms. Time wasted when going to the spring is now used profitably in class. Diarrheal diseases are no longer an issue, thanks to the WASH training that came as part of the project package. This has also been translated into an improvement in academic performance with the school being named among the most improved in performance in Emuhaya sub-county during this year’s education day. The CTC School club has helped the school to discover young leaders they believe will be great leaders in this nation. The club members have been able to come up with very good projects for maintenance and sustainability of the WASH facilities within the institution. Some of their projects are a nursery bed for trees and planting bananas for sale. Such confidence and responsibility of such magnitude had never been anticipated from those children, especially the girls until we had proper facilities. It really gives teachers courage and hope that the future is secure with such promising young lives.”

“Hellen Oneya, a 13-year-old student, says she feels proud and has developed more love for her school since the new water tank and latrines were constructed,” Jacqueline reports. “She is so happy the stress of carrying drinking water in a bottle every day is now over. They now have enough water and one can drink as much as he/she wants. Their classrooms can now be mopped every evening unlike the former days when they used to mop them once a week. This has even led to reduction of whooping cough that initially used to be caused by too much dust.”

“Pupils have now been relieved of the stress of climbing the sloppy hill from the spring, which could make it very hard to concentrate in class after fetching water. Performance has improved and many new children have joined the school because of the new WASH facilities. The tree seedling and flower planting project was also initiated by the CTC club which brags and feels on top of the game when it comes to WASH matters. Finally, the club is also thrilled by the fact that their voices are being heard in the school, for instance, they came up with a suggestion that each class needed a dust bin and the head teacher reacted by buying that important facility for every class,” says Hellen.


Everyone that was met and spoken to is grateful for the project,” says Jacqueline. “We will continue to visit this school regularly and are happy to report findings with you.”

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to 4 times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.

Country Details


Population: 39.8 Million
Lacking clean water: 43%
Below poverty line: 50%

Partner Profile

Western Water and Sanitation Forum (WEWASAFO) works together with less privileged and marginalized members of communities in Western Kenya to reduce poverty through harnessing and utilization of local resources for sustainable development.