Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2017

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 04/09/2024

Project Features

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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

Bordered by Ikolomani to the west and Sabatia to the east, Emuhaya is home to Emurembe Primary School. People say this is the only area in the entirety of Vhiga County where people still have a considerable amount of land. It is commonly known as ‘the scheme’ since many people from as far as central Kakamega still come here to lease land. However, the natives do not properly utilize this precious gift: almost every family leases land to outsiders who grow crops and compete the locals. The good harvests of those leasing the adjacent land drives locals deeper into poverty. These locals are sacrificing lifetime benefits for immediate gains.

"Money got by men after leasing land is wasted in the local brew dens where men spend most of their times drinking themselves silly," to quote the school BOM (Board of Management) chairperson verbatim. This entire Emurembe location, especially Ebunyonje Village where this school is built, is known for illicit alcohol. The rate of alcoholism is so high that it is thought to be a real curse on the people.

Women have thus taken up the leadership position in their families. They pick tea and till the land leased to foreigners in order to support their families.

The BOM chair believes that this school can perform better if the government, through the cabinet secretary for education, stops being so strict on teachers. According to him, the government is soft on children and hard on teachers, and in the end it is the children who suffer for it.

He believes that pupils should have holiday and weekend tuition to boost their performance, but the government doesn’t allow it. He also believes that children should join grade one when they are at least six years old, but the government says that any child who passes the ECD (early education) examination should join standard one. Chairman Arthur complains that some children join class one when they are just three years old, posing a challenge to teachers. Most of these children have low concentration spans and cannot sit in class for long hours. They sleep on their desks during lessons and teachers are forced to toilet train them, which is work that should be done at home by their parents.

Of all the schools we’ve been to, this one has the most active BOM chair, Mr. Arthur Esiakhunye, who lives just a stone's throw from the school compound. He visits the school on a daily basis to understand everything going on. He can clearly explain the school timetable and elaborate how each teacher does their work. He knows those who work hard with a passion to help children and transform the community, and he also knows the teachers who are just there to earn their salary. "Whenever I come here, every class must have a teacher, if any is missing a teacher I have to inquire and understand why," he explained. Being a former teacher who taught at Emurembe for 24 years, Mr. Esiakhunye understands how everything should run in a learning institution. The passion with which he describes the daily activities and his desire to change his community through quality education is amazing. He has been here since the inception of the school in 1972 when it had only three classes. He has since grown with this institution, sharing its successes and failures throughout the years.

It now has a student enrollment of 600. (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.)

Water Situation

The Salvation Army Church sponsors this institution, and has donated a 5,000-liter plastic tank that can only serve a population of 617 for a short time. A team was called to drill a borehole, but they gave up after reaching 70 feet without water.

The school has tried to minimize the amount of time spent on roads by children by asking them to come to school with water every morning and when they return after lunch. Even so, pupils must still be sent out to Wamianda Spring to fetch more water when there are shortages. This source is deep inside a valley that is a tiresome, long walk for students. "We desire our performance to increase, but it is very hard for that to happen if our children still go out of class to fetch water from that spring that is far from the school," the Deputy Headteacher Jeremiah explained. Pupils fight over water and sometimes come back complaining that villagers have beaten them, and the deputy assumes it is because locals scramble for water with the community. Water brought to school is kept under a tree in the same containers used for fetching. These containers have no covers, exposing the water to all kinds of germs. Children also dip their fingers in the containers as they carry them from the spring, and some were seen drinking water with their mouths directly from those containers. In short, there is very poor handling of water in this school.

The chairman said, "We tell our pupils to come with containers that have covers but they say their parents can’t afford the ones with cover leads and we can’t punish them for failing to come with the leads: that will be so unfair."

There is an interesting story of Flavian, a girl who received a thorough beating from her mother at home because the container she used to carry water got lost. With the teachers’ permission, this little girl carries her jerrycan wherever she goes within the school compound so as to avoid trouble at home.

Sanitation Situation

The school has six doors of pit latrines set aside for 310 boys. Girls had 10 doors, but four of them were so old that they sank in May of 2016. A child almost died inside, but was rescued in time.

Those latrines have since been closed with nobody allowed to use them. Therefore, 290 girls share the remaining six doors. 14 teachers together with two watchmen and one cook have one latrine door for each gender that were donated. Malaria and diarrheal diseases are very common in this school and it is normally very hard to get quick medication. The nearest health facilities are in the interior of Ikolomani, Sabatia or Luanda sub-counties, and many people have died of cases that would have been easily treatable. There is no compost pit in this institution, so garbage is disposed of on bare ground next to the school farm. The chairperson said that even though they have tried to clean classrooms and latrines daily, hygiene is very poor in this village. He says that women are the best to be taught because they will listen and implement, unlike men who have always failed to attend or walked out of important meetings. Chairman Arthur said, "We have tried to maintain good hygiene standards but our children get hygiene-related diseases from home then come here and spread to the rest. I’m so happy that parents will attend the training, they need to be taught," he explained.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training and Hand-Washing Stations

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. This CTC club will oversee the new facilities, such as hand-washing stations, and make sure they are kept clean and in working condition. The two hand-washing stations will be delivered to the school, and the club will fill them with water on a daily basis and make sure there is always a cleaning agent such as soap or ash.

Plans: VIP Latrines

Two triple-door latrines will be constructed with local materials that the school will help gather. Three doors will serve the girls while the other three serve the boys. And with a new source of water on school grounds, students and staff should have enough to keep these new latrines clean.

Plans: Rainwater Catchment Tank

A 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank will help alleviate the water crisis at this school. The school will also help gather the needed materials such as sand, rocks, and water from the spring for mixing cement. Once finished, this tank can begin catching rainfall that will be used by the school’s students and staff. Students will no longer have to leave their school in search of water.

We and the school strongly believe that with this assistance, standards will significantly improve. These higher standards will translate to better academic performance!

Project Updates

October, 2018: A Year Later: Emurembe Primary School

A year ago, generous donors helped construct a rainwater catchment tank for Emurembe Primary School in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories. Read more...

October, 2017: Emurembe Primary School Project Complete

Emurembe Primary School in Kenya now has a new source of safe, clean water thanks to your generous donation. A new rainwater catchment system has been built, and there are now six new latrines being used. Two hand-washing stations have been installed, and students have received training in sanitation and hygiene. Just imagine the difference these resources will make in the lives of these children!

You made it happen, now help keep the water flowing! Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this rainwater catchment tank 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.

Project Result: New Knowledge

We worked with the headteacher to invite a group of students, teachers, and parents to attend hygiene and sanitation training. Student representatives who exhibit strong leadership among their peers were selected to attend. There was a total of 24 participants who gathered in the fourth grade classroom ready to learn.

2 kenya4668 training

We taught an entire lesson on management and maintenance of the new tank and latrine facilities. Regular checking and cleaning of the gutter system is a must! It’s also important to treat the water while it is still in the tank. We also covered topics including but not limited to:

– Water pollution and water treatment

– Personal and environmental hygiene

– Group dynamics, leadership, and governance

– Forming an effective CTC (child to child) club

– Hand-washing

Demonstrations were used for hand-washing, tooth-brushing, solar disinfection, and many other topics. We facilitated group discussions and presentations, and students took part in role-plays. The students also received handouts which will help them teach hygiene and sanitation to their peers.

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Discussing proper water handling and storage.

The CTC club will include both students and teachers who want to take responsibility for spreading the message of good health and hygiene among their peers. They will also be responsible for managing hand-washing stations, cleaning latrines, and keeping the school environment tidy. A water user committee has also been formed by parents and school administration, which will be responsible for overseeing and maintaining the new facilities.

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Taking a peek inside the new tank during training on tank management and maintenance.

Mr. Leonard Nyangweso was one of the teachers in attendance. He didn't only help our facilities teach the students, but he learned a lot himself. "We are a blessed people. I have gathered knowledge that I had never known since my childhood. Learning continues until the end of life on earth, and I'm so grateful that you came with very important knowledge to us. We have not been practicing good health out of ignorance, but now that we have knowledge Emurembe will be a changed school. Thank you for everything," he said.

Project Result: VIP Latrines

This project funded the installation of six new VIP (ventilated improved pit) latrines. These latrines are easy to use and easy to clean. And with a rainwater catchment tank, there should be enough water to keep them clean all the time!

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Two girls learning how to properly use and take care of their new latrines.

Project Result: Hand-Washing Stations

The two hand-washing stations were delivered to school and handed over to the CTC club. These have been placed outside of the boys' and girls' latrines to encourage hand-washing after latrine use. CTC club members will teach other students how to properly wash their hands at these stations, and will make sure there is always soap or ash available. Now the school has the stations they need, and they have the water to fill them! Mr. Omuhindi Onyonyo said, "For the first time our children are using hand-washing facilities which will be filled with water from the tank daily, and it has really made them proud hence boosting their self esteem."

20 kenya4668 hand-washing station

But that water was for hand-washing!

Project Result: Rainwater Catchment Tank

Construction for this 50,000-liter rainwater catchment tank was successful!

Parents, staff, and students helped our artisans gather everything needed for construction. All the while, women cooked meals for the artisans, and the school provided accommodations for the artisans during their work.

The process began with our staff and the headteacher moving around the school compound to try and determine the best location for a new rainwater catchment tank. This needs to be the best site with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater. The only new roof was next to an avocado tree with leaves that could fall on the roof, meaning it would need to be cleaned off every single day. We also feared that the roots of the tree could eventually grow into the tank foundation and cause cracks. The school administration ended up cutting down this tree to create an appropriate place for the water tank.

Rainwater tank construction began with clearance of the site: excavating the soil within the required measurements to make level ground for the tank foundation. The foundation was cast by laying hardcore on a level ground and then reinforcing it using steel, concrete and waterproof cement.

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This metal wiring is one of many layers that comprise the tank wall.

As the foundation was being lain, both the drawing pipe as well as the washout pipe were affixed. The wall was built with ferro-cement techniques through six layers. The inner wall was plastered while rough casting was done on the outer part.

13 kenya4668 tank construction

After the superstructure had been given enough time to settle, the dome construction followed. The manhole cover was fitted, inlet pipes were connected to the roof gutters, inlet screens, ventilation pipes (breathers) and overflow pipes were all done to standards.

Finally, the catchment area was dug, plastered, and a staircase installed. Drainage was set up there, and then the tank was allowed three to four weeks to undergo complete curing before it was cleaned and handed over to Emurembe Primary School. It already has some water in it!

27 kenya4668 clean water

Heavy rainfalls really interfered with work, to the extent that almost every afternoon was wasted with the artisans having to leave the site to seek shelter. In addition to that, one of the skilled artisans working on the latrines got so sick that he had to leave the site and seek medical attention for three days before returning.

The artisans also needed water for mixing cement. It was hard to see children removed from class to fetch water for construction, but after seeing the completed project they agreed with teachers that it was worth the sacrifice. ''I don't regret the time our children have spent out of class throughout the construction process, because we sacrificed about twelve days to get a solution that will help us for decades," Jeremiah Masalia stated.

The headteacher told us another story about how they used to lose students because of their lack of water and latrines. Three children who left have already returned since this project; children who walked great distances to attend a school in Kilingili. "Those children are just neighbors of this school, but they used to walk a very long distance to Kilingili and would even reach that school late, just because Kilingili had new facilities. Right now, they are back because they have seen these same facilities in Emurembe," said Mr. Masalia. He said he's received a lot of communication from parents interested in transferring their children over to study at his school. As all of these students have the time and good health to stay in class, their academic performance will improve.

August, 2017: Emurembe Primary School Project Underway

Emurembe Primary School will soon have a source of water on school grounds thanks to your donation! A rainwater catchment tank and new latrines are being constructed, hand-washing stations provided, and the school is being trained on proper sanitation and hygiene practices. Imagine the impact this will have on these students! For now, check out the report with narrative, pictures, and maps to learn more about this project. Thank you for noticing the need here, and we’ll keep you posted as the work continues.

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: Emurembe Primary School

October, 2018

“We can walk to school not heavily burdened with water.” – 16-year-old student Eunice Nyabera

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Emurembe 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!

A year ago, generous donors helped construct a rainwater catchment tank for Emurembe Primary School in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow teams to visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the water project over time. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – and we’re excited to share this one from Lillian Achieng with you.

"Having water in our school has really saved us time, and now we have time to study. We can walk to school not heavily burdened with water," 16-year-old student Eunice Nyabera told us.

Eunice Nyabera

The impact of the tank, the latrines and handwashing stations on the school is immediately apparent. Student enrollment has already grown as a result of the project. Headmaster Nicholas Emonyi also reported that cases of waterborne illness among the students decreased over the past year. Students spend more time in class, rather than collecting water or lining up to use the latrine.

"The latrines have really helped us since we do not wait long when we need to use the latrine," Eunice agreed.

"We are happy because we wash our hands, our classrooms, and even our latrines using the water from the tank."

Construction of the tank is only one step along the journey toward sustainable access to clean water. The Water Project is committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by donors like you, allows us to maintain our relationships with communities by visiting up to 4 times each year to ensure that the water points are safe and reliable.

Nicholas Emonyi

This is just one of the many ways that we monitor projects and communicate with you. Additionally, you can always check the functionality status and our project map to see how all of our water points are performing, based on our consistent monitoring data.

One project is just a drop in the bucket towards ending the global water crisis, but the ripple effects of this project are truly astounding. This tank in Emurembe Primary School is changing many lives.

"We now have enough safe drinking water in school," Eunice said

This is only possible because of the web of support and trust built between The Water Project, our local teams, the community, and you. We are excited to stay in touch with this community and support their journey with safe water.

Read more about The Water Promise and how you can 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 Emurembe 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 Emurembe 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
JDE Student Charity 2016-17
1 individual donor(s)