Kayembe Primary School ISSB Tank Project – Uganda

This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.

This project has been completed. To read about the conclusion CLICK HERE.


Kayembe Primary School, Namwendwa Subcounty, Kamuli Region, Uganda

Community Description
Kayembe is a primary school in the Kamuli region, Uganda with 545 pupils. It has been selected as part of the ‘One Village at a Time’ program by HYT Uganda. This means that 10 unemployed youths from the community have been selected to learn sustainable Interlocking Stabilized Soil Block (ISSB) masonry techniques through the building of various structures within the school. It currently has 2 classroom blocks, an office (used as a classroom), a dilapidated pit latrine and dilapidated kitchen, and a broken plastic water tank.

HYT trainees are currently working on a new classroom block, which will have a sufficient roofing area to justify the construction and attachment of a water storage tank.

Problem Addressed
The current plastic tank’s guttering is broken, as well as its tap, and the walling is punctured. Pupils, therefore, miss lessons to travel to the borehole, which is shared by the school and community, resulting in long queues.

Project Description
This project is to build a 20,000-liter tank and install piping and guttering for a complete rainwater catchment system.

A new classroom block will provide the roofing area for rainwater harvesting upon its completion.

The tank will be constructed approximately 1 meter from the building and connected with guttering. It will be built using ISSB technology, which does not require firewood, unlike traditional burnt bricks, preserving vital tree cover.

Blocks are made by the trainees of the ‘One Village’ program using a manual press and are curved. The subsoil required for their manufacture will be sourced onsite in Kayembe, mixed with sand, a little (5%) cement and waterproofing, compressed into blocks, and cured in the sun for 28 days. Masons will then utilize the blocks’ interlocking feature to build the tank, plastering and painting as well as roofing it.

This affords the masons the opportunity to learn universally-applicable construction skills, as well as unique ISSB techniques. This knowledge will contribute to their employment on further projects, either with HYT or other social enterprise organizations.

Funds will be used to purchase materials not freely available like the murram (e.g. cement, sand, roofing timber, iron roofing sheets, and paint), as well as to pay the masons’ wages and project management fees. The Kayembe Parent-Teacher Association and the entire community will provide food/water, onsite helpers, accommodation, site security, and general support. This encourages the community to take ownership of the project and care for the new tank.

Project Impact
552 people, consisting of 545 pupils and 7 staff, will directly benefit from the project.

Project Manager
This project will be managed by Charlie Tebbutt, Assistant Country Manager, HYT Uganda. Under Charlie’s direction the Kagumba Primary School ISSB Tank Project – Uganda was recently completed.

Monitoring and Maintenance
HYT employs locally-trained Ugandans to build its structures, creating a sense of local pride and ownership rather than an attitude of gift-receiving. The Trust signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the school and community, which includes clauses on the continued monitoring and maintenance of all structures, old and new.

When tanks are completed, communities are left with a manual and toolkit, to be used by a special committee for tank maintenance, stipulated in the M.O.U. HYT continues to visit project sites following their completion to check on the condition of structures and to encourage and advise the community regarding maintenance.

Let Girls Learn
Of 545 pupils, 270 are girls. The onsite water source that the tank provides will reduce pupils’ trips to the local borehole in order to collect water. Not only do these journeys take place during valuable lesson time, but they present risks to the children, particularly unaccompanied girls. A water tank will lower the occurrence of such trips.

This project has been paid for through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Conclusion of Kayembe Primary School ISSB Tank Project – Uganda

This project has been completed under the direction of Charlie Tebbutt, Assistant Country Manager, HYT Uganda. To read about the start of the project, CLICK HERE.

Charlie reports:

Great news – the second tank project at Kayembe is complete! The school now has a safe, secure water source, and a new set of sustainable tank builders has been trained in the region!

Project Summary
The new tank at Kayembe Primary School is unique. Not only does it provide 270 girls and 275 boys with life-giving water, but it has also equipped 10 young Ugandan men and women with employable skills in sustainable construction.

Selected from among local, unemployed youths on the basis of their enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to learn, Kayembe’s team of trainees had already learned to use Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSB) to build a classroom block. Using the curved version of the ISSB, trainees built the 20,000 L tank to store the vast amount of water collected by the classroom’s roof.

In the first few weeks, the team alternated between block-making, which involves compressing local soils rather than traditional brick-burning, and building the foundational slab. Once blocks had cured in the sun, trainees were taught to stack them using the interlock feature.

The team then had the opportunity to practice their plastering skills on the inside and outside of the tank, using wire mesh to strengthen the walls. After adding a roof and mesh netting to keep the water free of mosquitoes, trainees learned how to assemble and connect the guttering system to the tank.

Having protected the tank exterior with a layer of paint, trainees attached the tap to a plinth close to the school kitchen, where most of the water is used.

Before the tank’s construction, head teacher Mr Nkolowo Frances complained that “an hour is lost a day at the borehole”. That will now change, as the tank represents a secure, local water source, and reduces congestion around the community borehole.

Thanks to this project, the trainees now have the skills to build more such tanks across Uganda, obtaining employment and impacting the lives of schoolchildren all over the country.

Kayembe school has designated a tank management team, to ensure the long-term care of its new facilities.

HYT would like to thank Water Charity for their extremely generous support, as well as the community of Kayembe for their continued enthusiasm and assistance.

We wish you all the very best – it’s been great to work with such an efficient organisation!

We extend our thanks to Charlie for completing this important project and look forward to future projects with HYT.