Eshivembe Primary School Rainwater Catchment Project

Regional Program:
Western Kenya WaSH Program

Latitude 0.30
Longitude 34.69

372 Served

Project Status:

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Stories and Community Profile

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).

Welcome to the School

Eshivembe Primary School is located in Bushibo Village, Shiunzu sub-location, Butsobutso Central location within Lurambi Constituency of Kakamega County. Eshivembe Primary School was started in 1998 by community members. The community saw the need to start the school, since the nearest school was three kilometers away from their Shiunzu Village. Mr. James Sakwa was the main man behind this, who saw the challenges children were facing to access education: Lateness, pupils reaching school too tired to study well, and a lack of security when traversing through sugarcane plantations, hills and valleys.

The school has a total population of 280 primary students of whom 138 are boys and 142 are girls. The early education section has a total of 78 pupils of which 47 are boys and 31 are girls. With regard to the teaching staff, the school has 11 teachers: three are male and eight are female. The school also employs two support staff (one cook and one watchman).

A normal day in this community starts as early as 5AM, when children wake up to take a bath, brush teeth, eat breakfast and rush to school by 6:30AM.

These students arrive at school at 7AM. Their school day starts with cleaning the classrooms and picking rubbish up within the school compound. Since the school has no access to safe water within the compound, students must go to an unprotected spring that is 400 meters away. Once returned with full water containers, they then proceed to do morning exercises. By 8AM, they line up for prayers and announcements from both the teacher on duty and the headteacher.

In between morning classes, students are sent to fetch water from the spring to supply the school lunch program for grades seven and eight and the teaching staff. Girls are often the ones sent to fetch water while classes continue as usual. This group of young ladies miss class, and it is obvious that affects their academic performance.

After lunch, pupils are seen once again going to and fro from the spring, fetching water for cleaning up classrooms and for drinking in the afternoon.

All the while, students’ mothers and fathers are in the fields farming sugarcane. Sugarcane is the main source of livelihood in Bushido Village.

Water Situation

The nearby spring is unprotected, meaning that there is no catchment system from which water can be drawn. Instead, students and community members use small containers, scooping the flowing water to fill their plastic jerrycans. Since primary students are so young, they can only manage to carry containers between three and five liters. It is obvious that water is dirty before it is even poured or transported back to the school. Spring water is contaminated by surface runoff, nearby farming, littering, animals, and open defecation. The water is cloudy, and you can see algae floating on top.

Students often get in trouble going to and from the spring. There is no supervision for boys or girls, and the girls will especially prefer to travel in groups. Once at the spring, students report that community members are very hostile. The children must wait until all the community members have finished gathering water for themselves, and many of the younger students fear going to the spring altogether. Some students will avoid attending school, afraid that the teachers will force them to fetch water there. Not only can community members be hostile towards students using their water, but the snakes are too! The water point is surrounded by bushes, providing the snakes with a suitable home.

Though it is obvious the water is unsafe for drinking, there is still a huge demand. It is always being used for drinking, cooking, or cleaning in the school. Right as students arrive at the school with their full containers, it is immediately expended. After drinking water from the spring, cases of waterborne sickness such as dysentery, typhoid, and cholera are rampant.

Sanitation Situation

There are only two pit latrines serving a total student population of 358. These two are left after last week, when the mud walls of two others collapsed. Since two latrines are inadequate for the high student population, open defecation is a huge issue. Students cannot manage to wait in line that long, and fear being late for class. The school has been issued a closure notice by the government that states a need for more latrines. If this need is not met, the school will be shut down.

Due to extreme poverty, many pupils lack toilet paper, and instead use banana leaves which can be seen on the latrine floors. These leaves contaminate hands, so there have been increased outbreaks of diarrhea. And because of these poor sanitation facilities, girls often abandon their schooling before receiving an adequate education.

There are also no hand-washing stations for students to wash up after using the latrine, or before meals. Nor are there dish racks where students and teachers can dry their drinking and eating utensils. The school disposes of its garbage in the surrounding sugarcane plantations.

After our initial visit, it was apparent that both students and staff are ignorant of good hygiene and sanitation practices. Nobody bothered washing their hands, and utensils were being aired out on the rocks and ground around the kitchen. There was also no way to keep the latrines clean enough, so students often suffer from infections.

When talking about the situation with Lauren, a student at Eshivembe Primary, she admitted, “I don’t enjoy coming to school. The school sends us to fetch water every day, so I am missing classes. Also, the latrines are old, look bad and dirty, and this makes the young pupils fear using them. Thus they urinate and defecate behind classrooms. I wish someone would see our plight and send us help by construction safe and sound sanitation with a clean water source in the school.”

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

The school sent a letter to WEWASAFO requesting help after they received their closure notice. They heard about this hygiene, sanitation, and water work through the Chris Ochango spring protection project. After the first visit, we agreed to help the school meet their needs. The school staff, its students and parents have also agreed to do what is necessary to make this project succeed. That includes attending hygiene and sanitation training for three days! Based on our initial visit to this school, the facilitator has set four goals:

  1. Highlight the dangers of open defecation
  2. Demonstrate the proper way to fetch and store water
  3. Illustrate disease transmission and how to build barriers
  4. Teach proper sanitation and health practices

The facilitator will also teach participants on how to build a strong CTC (child to child) club. The CTC club will lead other students into healthy habits, as well as maintain the two hand-washing stations being delivered for this project.

Plans: Rainwater Catchment Tank

A 30,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will be constructed on school grounds. Teachers, students, and parents will gather the local materials needed for this project, including sand, ballast, bricks, and hardcore. This contribution will fuel a sense of responsibility for the school and community to take care of their new facilities. Once materials are mobilized, the WEWASAFO team will arrive to lead the construction effort.

Plans: VIP Latrines

Two triple-door latrines will be constructed, providing three new latrines for each gender. Latrine materials will be mobilized the same way as the tank, ensuring the school feels these facilities are truly theirs.

Plans: Hand-Washing Stations

Two hand-washing stations will be delivered to the school before training. These come in the form of two 60-liter containers fitted with a tap. The training facilitator will demonstrate how to properly wash hands, and then students will have a chance to practice in groups. The CTC club will be responsible for filling the hand-washing containers on a daily basis.

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

12/16/2017: A Year Later: Eshivembe Primary School

A year ago, generous donors helped build a rainwater catchment system and latrines for the Eshivembe Primary School in Western Kenya. Because of these gifts and contributions from our monthly donors, partners can visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partners, Karen Maruti and Joan Were, with you.

The Water Project : 4606_yar_1

08/10/2016: Eshivembe Primary School Rainwater Catchment Tank Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the students and staff of Eshivembe 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.You made it happen, now help keep the water flowing. Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this well and many other projects.

The report below from our partner gives the latest details of the project. We also just updated the project page with new pictures. Make sure to click on the “See Photos & Video” tab to check them out!

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held within the school compound. School administration selected the best dates for training, and notified staff and students ahead of time. Representation included the head teacher, deputy head teacher, members from the board of management, and boys and girls from grades three to six. Attendance totaled 26.

Training topics included but were not limited to:

  • Gathering local material for construction
  • Leadership and governance
  • Group dynamics
  • Primary healthcare
  • Operation and maintenance of sanitation facilities
  • Disease transmission routes
  • Local diseases and their prevention
  • Water treatment
  • Forming a child health club

The child health club will include both students and teachers who want to take responsibility for spreading the message of good health and hygiene among their peers. Teacher Everlyne Nandoya said, “We are grateful to WEWASAFO for the health and hygiene training, our pupils were ignorant of proper hygiene practices like washing hands, and this resulted to them suffering from diarrhea diseases and stomachache. With the health club in place, our children will be enlightened on proper hygiene practices!”

2 kenya4606 training

Project Result: Hand-Washing Stations

Students were also taught about the steps of proper hand-washing, and know when to do so. The two hand-washing stations were delivered to the school and installed outside of the latrines. After training, we were pleased to witness students washing their hands after using the latrine.

Project Result: VIP Latrines

Construction of the two triple-door VIP latrines is also complete and are ready to be used. The pupils said that the additional latrines are very nice and easy to use, without the problems of bad odor and urine on the floors. Thanks to the water tank, the latrines will also be cleaned regularly.

16 kenya4606 complete latrines

Project Result: Rainwater Catchment Tank

Construction for this 30,000-liter rainwater catchment tank began on April 30th.

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.

8 kenya4606 construction

After the tank was complete, we ran into a father of one of the Eshivembe students. He did not hesitate to express his gratefulness on behalf of the entire community. “As a parent, I am very happy that our children have now access to safe water and sanitation. They initially wasted a lot of time going to fetch water far away from school. This has been unsafe for them and also many wasted time instead of being in class to study.” The pupils now have more time that was previously wasted fetching water. These new, good conditions will have a very positive impact on girls who often drop out of schools that do not have toilet facilities. These same girls are also the first sent in search of water, but now girls don’t have to worry about either issue!

The Water Project : 20-kenya4606-dedication

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment
Location:  Kakamega, Bushibo
ProjectID: 4606
Install Date:  07/26/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 09/14/2017

Visit History:
11/03/2016 — Functional
12/06/2016 — Functional
02/28/2017 — Functional
07/06/2017 — Functional
09/14/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Eshivembe Primary School

November, 2017

One year after the water project intervention, the pupils from Eshivembe Primary School look healthy, clean and happy.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a rainwater catchment system and latrines for the Eshivembe Primary School in Western Kenya. Because of these gifts and contributions from our monthly donors, partners can visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partners, Karen Maruti and Joan Were, with you.

One year after the water project intervention, the pupils from Eshivembe Primary School look healthy, clean and happy. Initially the school had no access to safe water which resulted in the students being forced to go and fetch water from a nearby spring 400meters away from the school. With accessibility to water in the school, the pupils can clean their compounds. Cases of absenteeism had also reduced due to drinking safe drinking water.

Head teacher Gilbert Etole spoke about the positive differences he has seen in the year. “I am happy to say that Eshivembe Primary School has not been the same since the project intervention last year. The school’s population has increased by 150 pupils. This was prompted by the pupils coming in from neighboring schools that still have no access to safe water. The school infrastructure has also improved with 2 more additional classes being constructed to accommodate the high influx of students. As you can see, all pupils are now in class with no one running down the stream to get water. We believe this will not only improve their health but also their performance. Thank you!”

11-year-old Jane Nguya was excited to share her experience as well. “We can now sit in class full time and study. No more trips to the spring. Thank you!” Jane said beaming.

There is need to conduct a refresher training on hygiene promotion and maintenance. This is because two of the trained teachers and head teacher were transferred to other schools before the concept had been accepted. We will continue to undertake routine monitoring of this water project and advise the school community accordingly. Dosing will also be done regularly to ensure the children get clean and safe drinking water.

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.


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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.