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Location: Kenya

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  Installed

Functionality Status:  Functional

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).

Welcome to the School

Esalwa Primary School was founded in 1929 by a community member of the name of Daniel Asiachi, who donated his own land for the school’s construction. The school has a population of 496 boys, 696 girls, seven male teachers and 13 female teachers. There is also an early education section that has 44 boys and 56 girls, taught by three female teachers. The school also has one cook and two security guards.

(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 school would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)

A normal day for a student entails getting themselves and their share of water to school very early in the morning… by 6AM! They carry their water in small jerrycans no more than five liters, which is used for cleaning classrooms in preparation of morning lessons. Between cleaning and lessons, students meet outside for 30 minutes of exercises. Lessons begin 8AM on the dot, and continue until 10AM when they go for a short break. Lunch is from 1-2PM, and students can choose to stay on school grounds or return home. They all return by 2PM and continue with lessons until games start at 3:45PM.

This is a school in a poor community, so it has a high rate of absenteeism due to failure paying fees. Some parents, instead of sending their children to school, send them to a nearby town to sell bananas and sugarcane. They also hire out their children as cheap labor on farms. Esalwa Primary School borders a different tribe, which sometimes results in tribal disputes that disrupt schooling.

Classrooms are overcrowded for the high population, though the school has a relatively large plot of land that would allow for expansion. “The pupils congest in classes, leading to many of them not fully getting the required education, knowledge and skills. Also due to this problem, quick spread of contagious diseases like flu and tuberculosis is rampant,” says Head Teacher Moses Okoko.

Water Situation

Since students carry water from home, it is impossible to know if that water is safe. Where does it really come from? Sometimes students will fetch water from the most convenient places, but not always the cleanest. Most of the local springs are unprotected, contaminated by surface runoff, farming, littering, and open defication. Though the school often boils water for cooking or drinking, students and staff still report cases of waterborne disease.

Sanitation Situation

There are 18 VIP latrines made of cement floors and brick walls. However, there is still a queue during class breaks because of the large student body. There are no hand-washing stations nearby, though, so students have no way to wash after using the latrines or before eating. Garbage is thrown away in a compost pit located in the back of the school compound.

The head teachers says, “I am very saddened when I think of many pupils in this school sufferings because of lack of enough latrines which makes the pupils uncomfortable.”

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Both students and staff are very excited to hear that they can participate in a two-day training on hygiene and sanitation. This training is meant to equip participants with the skills needed to practice good hygiene, and to promote these practices among peers and the greater community. The end goal is to eliminate water and hygiene-related diseases!

The facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Training), CTC (child to child), discussions, lectures, and demonstrations to teach topics including but not limited to disease transmission, hand-washing, and water treatment. The CTC method will prepare students to lead other students into healthy habits, as well as kickstart a CTC club for the school.

Plans: Rainwater Catchment Tank

A 50,000-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.

Recent Project Updates

07/21/2016: Esalwa Primary School Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the students and staff of Esalwa 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 took place at school in one of the classrooms. The head teacher was notified ahead of time so that they could mobilize student leaders, teachers, and parents to participate. Attendance totaled 12, consisting of two teachers, two parents, and six pupils. 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

Student Stephen Otieno said, “I thank the head teacher for allowing me to attend this training. I will teach others what I have learned today.”

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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.

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Project Result: Rainwater Catchment Tank

Construction for this 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank began on May 20th.

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.

Head Teacher Moses Akoko expressed his gratefulness at the tank’s completion. He said, “I thank God for such a blessing of a water tank from The Water Project and WEWASAFO because for a longer period of time, we have stayed without safe, clean water.”

Pupils from the school are now at ease knowing that water shortage in their school is a thing of the past. They now have plenty of time to concentrate on their classwork. Due to this, academic performance in the school is expected to improve, and school enrollment is expected to increase.

Thank you for caring for the thirsty!

The Water Project : 16-kenya4609-complete

05/17/2016: Esalwa Primary School Project Underway

We are excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, Esalwa Primary School in Kenya will soon have a new source of safe, clean water. A rainwater harvesting tank and new latrines will be constructed, handwashing stations will be provided, and the school will be trained in proper sanitation and hygiene practices. Imagine the impact this will have on these students! We just posted an initial report including information about the school, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work continues.

Take a look, and Thank You for your help!

The Water Project : 7-kenya4609-school-entrance

Explore More of The Project

Project Photos

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment
Location:  Vihiga, Esalwa
ProjectID: 4609
Install Date:  07/11/2016

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

Visit History:
08/21/2016 — Functional
10/30/2016 — Functional
03/01/2017 — Functional
05/29/2017 — Functional

A Year Later: Esalwa Primary School

November, 2017

“I no longer carry water from my home because of the big water tank in our school which holds a lot of water. With the availability of this project, I spend much of my time studying unlike in the previous years where I used to waste a lot of time going to fetch water.”

A year ago, generous donors helped build a rainwater catchment system and latrines with Esalwa 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 partner, Wilson Kipchoge, with you.

On entering the school compound, you will see totally a different view from last year. The water catchment system now serves the school and they really enjoy using it. A clean compound with trees and flowers has helped promote environmental hygiene of the school. Looking back at previous years, cases of waterborne diseases used to be reported. Now, the abundance of water available at the school has allowed the students and teachers to remain in a good health state and cleaner environment.

Senior teacher Dorcas Munala recognizes the impact the rainwater catchment system has made. “The school has enough water, unlike the previous years where we used to send pupils home to bring water. Latrines have really helped our pupils as many of them now come to the school knowing that there is no problem of relieving themselves outside the latrines as witnessed previously,” she reports. “Also, the population has risen significantly from previous 1192 pupils to now 1400.”

14-year-old student Diana Awinja has also experienced change thanks to the new water source. “I no longer carry water from my home because of the big water tank in our school which holds a lot of water. With the availability of this project, I spend much of my time studying unlike in the previous years where I used to waste a lot of time going to fetch water.”

Safety of the water still needs to be checked every now and then to avoid any rising cases of the water being unsafe. Due to this fact, the staff will be carrying out monitoring and evaluation to be able to deal with any problem arising and will be dosing the water in the tank to help in purifying the water. The Water Project and WEWASAFO have targeted schools just like this because of the potential that can be unlocked for both students and staff when clean water and sanitation is available. We know the positive changes at Esalwa Primary School from clean water access and healthy lifestyle changes will have ripples of impact throughout their school, their community, and in the surrounding areas. 

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.