St. Marys Shihome Girls School Rainwater Harvesting and VIP Latrines

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Kenyan Rainwater Harvesting

Latitude 0.40
Longitude 34.78

412 Served

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Stories and Community Profile

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


St. Mary’s Shihome Girls High School was started in the year 2000 by the Catholic Church with the intention of enabling girls to access education. The school is located 8km off Kakamega-Webuye road in Shihome village, Lunyinya sub-location, Shamberere location, South Kabras Division, Kakamega North sub-County within Kakamega County. The school has a total population of 380 students of whom 240 are boarders and 140 are day scholars. Amongst them are 6 physically disabled students. With regard to the teaching staff, the school has 21 teachers: 7 are employed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), 14 teachers are employed by the school Board of Management (BOM). There are also 11 support staff.


The school lacks sufficient access to safe water as they have three small plastic tanks with the capacity of 2300 litres, 1500 litres and 1500 litres. This is not sufficient to serve the total population of 412 pupils and staff of the school. This has resulted in the students being forced to go and fetch water from a nearby protected spring 1 kilometer away from the school. A lot of time is wasted when students make several trips to the spring. This is also complicated by a series of cases of misbehavior witnessed when the girls are sent to fetch water from the spring unsupervised. The proposed project will add a 30,000 liter rainwater harvesting tank to enable the school to store enough water for the dry seasons.

The students stated that the community members around the spring are also very hostile to them when they go to fetch water, something the girls considered a threat or danger. Normally they have to wait for a very long time for all the community members to finish before they can access the water.

Numerous cases of water related diseases have been reported in the school and this has been attributed to poor water handling. The most commonly reported cases include dysentery, typhoid, stomachache and cholera.

The school sanitation situation also needs to be addressed urgently as its in pathetic condition. The school has a total of 12 latrines out of which 6 doors are already filled up thus leaving only 4 doors for students and 2 doors for teachers. This means 1 door is serving over 90 pupils  which is far above the recommended ratio from the World Health Organization. The WHO recommends a latrine for every 25 girls.

Many students reported urinary tract infections due to poor hygienic conditions resulting from poor hygiene. They also have 12 bathing rooms.

The school has improvised 3 hand washing facilities; 1 is for staff only and 2 for the students.

The students fill the facilities with water every morning. Wastes are also deposited in a compost pit within the compound.

The entire St. Mary’s Shihome Girls School fraternity is appealing to WEWASAFO organization and The Water Project to consider their plight and assist them by constructing proper rainwater tanks and VIP toilets.

They are confident the  increased access to safe water will not only improve the sanitation and hygiene standards but will also contribute positively to an improvement in their overall academic performance both in local and national exams.


Child to child training is held with the faith that children are the future, and that this role ensures they are the best ones to spread new information and behaviors in their community. They can teach, demonstrate, work together and reach out to both peers and families.

Child to child training was held for St. Mary’s Shihome Girls’ School from October 13th to 14th. A total number of 15 people attended training, of which three were male and 12 were female. Attendance included three teachers, one board member, one librarian, seven students, and three WEWASAFO staff. The training aimed at equipping the participants with skills necessary to manage the rainwater harvesting tank, latrines, and hand-washing facilities. The training also included topics on living healthy and practicing higher hygiene standards at both home and school.

The participants discussed the roles of the CTC clubs:

– Teach others about hygiene

– Make sure all sanitation facilities are clean

– Organize special presentations on sanitation and hygiene

– Oversee classroom cleanliness

– Fill hand-washing facilities on a daily basis

– Hold income-generating activities for the club

Students and staff also brainstormed ways to reduce waterborne disease in their community:

– Construct new latrines

– Treat water

– Pen in pets and livestock

– Buy or make hand-washing facilities

– Practice proper water-handling methods

WEWASAFO staff made sure that students could effectively carry out important hygiene measures, such as washing hands. They were able to first observe staff and then practice washing their own hands.

Catherine Juma, a student participant, thanked the facilitating team, organization and partners involved in planning and executing this project. She and her peers were grateful to learn about water, sanitation, and hygiene. School board member Mr. John D. Maina said that the CTC approach is indeed good to train the community, and that the training and new facilities gave a great boost to the school institution. Both the facilitators and participants look forward to improved health and reduced cases of waterborne diseases.


Rainwater Harvesting Tank

Construction of the rainwater harvesting tank for St. Mary’s Shihome Girls’ School is now complete and in use.

The girls will no longer have to spend to greater part of their day collecting water that is often contaminated. The time wasted also caused the girls’ focus to diminish and their academics suffered. This situation has been replaced with a more hopeful one.

Because of the rainwater harvesting tank, the entire school community has access to clean, safe drinking water within the school compound. No long distances, no wasted time, and no overall distraction. No more worrying as the students go on long treks unsupervised. Since these girls now have enough time to study, school performance has greatly improved, which was gauged by an internal examination.

Since teachers no longer have to worry about this situation, they can invest in educating these girls to improve their futures and the future of their communities.

Cases of waterborne diseases like typhoid and cholera have already decreased.

VIP Latrines

Construction of two double-door VIP (ventilated improved pit) latrines is complete and they are now in use. All four of the doors are meant for the students, so queues during break times have been greatly shortened. Students are happy with the facilities and prefer these to the older ones. Overall these girls now have eight latrines that are in good condition, but it is still not enough for the total student body.

Hand-Washing Facilities

Hand-washing facilities have been installed and are now in use by the students. They are happy and willing to implement the new methods they used at training, washing their hands after using the latrines or before eating. The students fill these facilities with water every morning, and look forward to improved health.

The Water Project and students and staff of St. Mary’s Shihome Girls’ School Thank You for unlocking potential!

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

11/23/2015: St. Mary's Shihome Girls' School Project Complete

We are very excited to report that, thanks to your willingness to help, the students and staff of St. Mary’s Shihome Girls’ School in Kenya have a new source of safe, clean water. A new rainwater harvesting system and new latrines have been built. A handwashing station has 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 lots of pictures of smiling young faces.

Take a look, and Thank You for helping us unlock potential!

The Water Project : kenya4408-01-waiting-cups

10/14/2015: St. Marys Shihome Girls School Water Project Underway

We are excited to announce that, thanks to your willingness to help, St. Mary’s Shihome Girls School in Kenya will soon have a new source of safe, clean water. A new 30,000 liter rainwater harvesting system and new latrines are 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 a report from the field 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 : kenya4408-04

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment
Location:  Kakamega, Kenya
ProjectID: 4408
Install Date:  11/30/2015

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 04/04/2018

Visit History:
02/08/2016 — Functional
06/14/2016 — Functional
09/21/2016 — Functional
11/01/2016 — Functional
02/07/2017 — Functional
04/02/2017 — Functional
06/20/2017 — Functional
02/23/2018 — Functional
04/04/2018 — Functional


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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.