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: 04/11/2024

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

Essunza Primary School was founded in 1961 by the community members. It had a humble beginning with makeshift classrooms made of mud floors and walls, and grass-thatched roofs. It has now grown into a full-fledged primary school that even has an Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) section. The primary and the ECDE have 810 and 134 pupils respectively. There are also 25 teachers plus three support staff members employed, making the total school population stand at 972 people.

Students report to school by 7AM with a full jerrycan of water. This is put straight to use while students clean their classrooms for the first 20 minutes of the day. The rest of the day is spent in normal classes but for an hour lunch break at 1PM. Afternoon classes stretch until game time at the end of the day.

The majority of parents here are peasant farmers, but for the small percent engaged in business.

Water Situation

There is one 3,000-liter plastic tank on school grounds, but when full can barely serve the 972 people for one day. That is why school administration must require students' help in fetching water each morning.

Because each child brings their own water, it's impossible to ensure that any of it is clean. It comes from a multitude of sources. Once delivered to school, most water is kept in its container in the classroom. Other containers are sent to the kitchen for their use. A lot of the water students bring is turbid (muddy).

One of the ECDE teachers, Mrs. Mary Amisi, said "We do a lot of active learning with kids; singing, dancing, running and jumping. By the end of it, all children need nothing short of drinking water to pace down the heartbeat and cool the body. Unfortunately, there is no water that can serve the 134 kids we have. This torments us teachers!"

Sanitation Situation

There are 14 pit latrines on school grounds. Most of these have old wooden doors with holes large enough to destroy privacy. Others are almost full, while even more had walls beginning to slant (a sure, dangerous sign that soil is giving way). There is a foul smell because many students cannot wait a long time in line to urinate. Many run behind the latrines, depositing waste that attracts flies.

There are no hand-washing stations because there's isn't enough water. However, students and staff do their best to keep the school compound and classrooms as clean as they can without water.

Deputy Headteacher Declan Onyino said, "We have got cases of typhoid, stomachache and diarrhea that have been witnessed among the pupils. Malaria is something we have lived with, and it is an endemic disease in this part of the lake basin. Jigger infestation and skin disease is another health issue that we suspect spread very first among the pupils as they played, and some come with the problem from homes due to the miserable status of the houses they stay in."

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 haul water to school, for they will soon have safe water at their doorstep.

We and the school strongly believe that with this assistance, standards will significantly improve. These higher standards will translate to better health, better academic performance, and a better quality of life.

Project Updates

November, 2018: A Year Later: Essunza Primary School

A year ago, your generous donation helped us construct a rainwater catchment tank for Essunza Primary School in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local 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: Essunza Primary School Project Complete

Essunza 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

Hygiene and sanitation training was planned in coordination with school administration, who arranged the time and venue and invited all of the participants. They invited parents and student leaders from each grade and gender.

We met inside a classroom for most of the time, while certain demonstrations were taken outside. There ended up being 12 students, two teachers, and two parents in attendance. However, the outside demonstrations drew a lot more students who were curious about what was going on!

1 kenya4674 training

Teacher Lorna Okonyi, pictured in the blue dress, will head up the CTC club formed during this 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

10 kenya4674 hand-washing demonstration

A student prepares to demonstrate the 10 steps of hand-washing that she just learned about.

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. Hands-on demonstrations were the biggest hit with students; everyone wanted to participate in hand-washing, and students couldn't believe that solar disinfection of water actually works. We assured them if done right, that water is safe to drink.

9 kenya4674 solar disinfection demonstration

Several more students gather around to hear about solar disinfection of drinking water.

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.

Senior Teacher Lorna Okonyi was one of the two teachers there. She said, "This training has been so educative and beneficial to us and this institution at large. Our pupils have not only been reminded of some health promotion tips but have also been introduced to life-saving behaviors that will add more value to them. Information on menstrual [times] and hand-washing hygiene have been timely and helpful to us. We thank God that we have also been introduced to solar method of water disinfection. We are so grateful!"

6 kenya4674 sanitation teacher talking to students

Senior Teacher Okonyi addressing her students about the training's importance.

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!

21 kenya4674 finished 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!

23 kenya4674 hand-washing station

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. Some local men even helped our artisans with their manual labor.

15 kenya4674 preparing dirt

Local men preparing sand for construction by sifting out rocks.

The process began with our staff and school administration moving around the school compound to try and determine the best location for a new rainwater catchment tank. This needed to be the best site with good, clean roofing to catch the rainwater.

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.

16 kenya4674 tank foundation

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.

18 kenya4674 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 Essunza Primary School. It already has some water in it!

28 kenya4674 clean water

Headteacher Charles Sande spoke on behalf of his staff and students, saying "We are most grateful and in a celebratory mood for this voluminous tank we have been blessed with. Our pupils, and more so the kindergarten unit, will benefit greatly from these facilities. Water problem has been an evolving issue that has crossed us many years, accompanying the school for along time. We thank God for enabling us put this to a stop for now!"

August, 2017: Essunza Primary School Project Underway

Essunza 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: Essunza Primary School

October, 2018

The average test scores at Essunza Primary School improved over the past year, thanks to the fact that students can spend more time studying rather than fetching water.

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Essunza 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, your generous donation helped us construct a rainwater catchment tank for Essunza Primary School in Kenya. The contributions of incredible monthly donors and others giving directly to The Water Promise allow our local 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.

The school students and staff has been able to believe in themselves more than ever before. They strongly believe they are able to handle any other project having participated in the implementation of this one.

The pupils look more clean. We can attribute this to the clean classes they sit in, the homes they come from and the environment they play in. This has all improved due to the availability of reliable water at school and the knowledge the students acquired during the hygiene and sanitation training when the project was implemented.

"The tank has minimized water shortages at the school and the handwashing facilities have helped improved the students' health," deputy headmaster Declan Onyino said.

Deputy Headmaster Declan Onyino

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.

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 Essunza Primary School is changing many lives, including 15-year-old student Hellen Angoya.

Hellen Angoya

"Previously we used to come to school with water from home. Now, the teachers don't have to send us back home to get water or even punish us when we fail to bring it," she explained.

Students can concentrate more in class when they are not worried of carrying water from home and the punishment that may accompany the failure of bringing the water. That change is evident in the performance of the students. The school's average test scores improved in the year since the completion of the project. The access to safe water is also leading to improved health for students.

"I personally don't experience stomach pains now that I drink clean and safe water. The hand washing facilities also have really improved our health," Hellen said.

A student using one of the the handwashing stations

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 Essunza 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 Essunza 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
Hastings High School Feminism Club
The Oakridge Lower School
5 individual donor(s)