Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 102 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/21/2024

Project Features

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Nzalae Primary School is located in a dry, rural area dotted only by a few trees. The school compound itself is made up of a few brick buildings - mainly, seven classrooms. There's an open area where students to play, and a makeshift kitchen. The teachers don't have an office. The school was started in 2011 by community members who wanted to bring education closer to their children. Before Nzalae Primary, their children had to walk several kilometers every day.

Students arrive at school by 7am to clean classrooms and latrines before 8am study hall. Normal classes go from 8:20am to 3:10pm, when students are sent to the field for sports. Another hour study hall is required before students are dismissed at 5pm.


Students and parents are required to carry enough water to get the school through each day. This water comes from holes dug in sandy riverbeds, where water used to flow. These water holes are shared by both people and livestock. But when the year is at its driest, people have to travel beyond the Mui River to find adequate water.

Parents bring along a donkey that can carry up to four 20-liter jerrycans of water. Their children come along with a two or three-liter jerrycan of their own, which will go to school with them.

Depending on just what the students bring has greatly crippled the school. Teachers and students alike go without lunch. Students arrive late because of the extra burden of finding enough water each morning. Headteacher Musyimi said, "Our school is challenged in terms of water access. We have gone many days without meals after failing to get water for cooking. Our stay here in school is miserable, the water we depend on is from scoop holes which run dry anytime without notice - and above all, the water is never clean nor trusted."


Since the school lacks a steady water supply, they can't sustain a hand-washing culture, clean latrines regularly, or mop classes. Some of the classes don't have cemented floors and are always dusty because there's no water to keep them smooth.

There are five latrines for the students, but they're filthy. Though they don't have water to clean them with, they throw ash down the pit to keep the smell down. There are no hand-washing stations. Headteacher Musyimi added, ""We are trying our best to maintain high levels of hygiene and sanitation in school within our means. We clean the compound daily, but water problems have rendered us toothless in terms of washing classes and latrines. They can only be swept because we have no water for effective cleaning."

Here's what we're going to do about it:


Students and staff will be trained for one day. Those in attendance will form a school health club that will promote good hygiene and sanitation practices both at school and home. They will learn all of the steps to proper hand-washing, how to treat water, and how to keep their environment clean. The school will also be taught how to best oversee and maintain their new rainwater catchment tank and hand-washing stations.

Hand-Washing Stations

Three hand-washing stations will be delivered at the project’s completion. These are 1,000-liter plastic tanks fitted with four taps. The health club and school management will be responsible for making sure tanks are filled with water and that a cleaning agent such as soap or ash is available.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

We will build a 104,000-liter rainwater catchment tank for this school. This water will benefit the students, teachers, and supplementary staff. Parents will mobilize the materials needed for construction, such as sand and stone. They will also lend some strong arms to help with the actual construction.

The huge capacity of this tank makes the others look tiny in comparison; 104,000 liters should be enough water to carry students and staff through the entire dry season. As soon as the tank has time to cure, it can begin to collect rainwater for drinking, cooking and cleaning!

This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (formatted and edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

September, 2019: Giving Update: Nzalae Primary School

A year ago, your generous donation helped Nzalae Primary School in Kenya access clean water.

There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water at Nzalae Primary School. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this school maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

January, 2019: Water Flowing at Nzalae Primary School

We are extremely excited to share that the rainwater tank at Nzalae Primary School has water. Students are using the water for drinking, cleaning, and activities like handwashing. Please enjoy the new pictures added to the project page, and celebrate with these students!

September, 2018: Nzalae Primary School Construction Complete

A new rainwater catchment system was built! Nzalae Primary School in Kenya now has a new source of safe, clean water thanks to your support. Handwashing stations were installed, and students and staff have received training in sanitation and hygiene. All of these components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

New Knowledge

Field Officer Benedetta Makau worked with training officers and the school administration to plan the most convenient time for a hygiene and sanitation training. This always happens at least two weeks before the proposed dates so as to give the school administration adequate time to prepare both students and teachers. Careful consideration is taken so as to not interfere with the school's previously planned academic schedule.

Attendance was good as expected, with the entire student body gathered outside where there was enough room. Some sat on the ground while others sat on stones scattered around. Participation was better than usual, with students very much interested in each health topic. They especially enjoyed the illustrations that Ms. Christine Lucas brought to teach about good and bad hygiene practices.

These are the topics we taught about:

1. Germ-free food
2. Going to the latrine
3. Safe water
4. Disease transmission routes
5. Blocking the transmission routes
6. Personal hygiene
7. Handwashing
8. Soap-making

Students enjoyed learning how to make soap the most. This was an entirely new topic to them; they didn't even know they could make soap in their own homes. It was fun for the students knowing that they can be producers of their own soap, and they posed many questions about the process as they rotated soap-making duties.

"I have learned about new hygiene and sanitation concepts today. I now know the importance of handwashing and how to keep our school clean. Through the soap-making knowledge, we will be able to make soap for use at school during washing hands and washing of our lunch plates," said 14-year-old student Faith Mwende.

Faith Mwende

"Life in school will be more fun and healthy with the new concepts learned."

Handwashing Stations

Two large handwashing stations were delivered to the school in time for training demonstrations.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

Nzalae Primary School is affiliated with the Katalwa Twooka Oyu Self-Help Group, since most of its members’ children attend here. These parents and school administration approached the self-help group committee and requested their help in alleviating the water shortage at the school.

This tank is whopping 104,000 liters not because of a large student population, but because of how rarely it rains in Southeastern Kenya. The more water we can store during the seasonal rains, the more water available through the dry months.

A meeting with all of the parents and the headteacher was then held to plan out the project. Parents agreed to collect construction materials like sand, rocks, and water. They also worked hard alongside our artisans.

A donkey drops off sand at the construction site.

We ourselves had a hard time finding the timber necessary, to the point that construction was halted for two weeks. The Kenyan government had imposed a ban on logging in all public forests, thus creating a timber shortage in the market. We were eventually able to get imported timber.

The Process:

Construction for this 104,000-liter rainwater catchment tank is much like the construction of a concrete house. First, the ground is leveled for foundation excavation. Alternating layers of impermeable rocks are laid upon mortar up to seven feet high, with internal and external diameters of 25 and 28 feet respectively.

A reinforced concrete column is built right up to the center of the tank, which holds up the roof and prevents it from caving in. The walls are then plastered both internally and externally with waterproof cement. After that, several feet of guttering is installed and channeled into the tank.

Working on the inside of the tank. It's huge!

Once the tank has cured (dried) sufficiently, it can begin to collect rainwater. We look forward to sharing another update after the first rains here.

Multiple gutter systems feed the tank so that it fills with water quickly when it rains.

The school leadership is now primarily responsible for the management and maintenance of this project. They are armed with the technical skills to ensure that the water tank remains functional. Where gaps exist, they will be identified through our ongoing monitoring visits, and corrective measures will be taken to address the same.

"This water tank is amazing. It looks big, so we will no longer be required to carry water to school which has been a huge burden since I joined. Coming to school will now be fast without carrying a 5-liter container of water. Life in school will be enjoyable in the wake of water provision... meals will be served on time and we will always be attentive in class," said Faith.

"Concentration in class will help us improve our performance and pass our national exams!"

April, 2018: Nzalae Primary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at Nzalae Primary School drains students’ time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know your school through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

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!

Giving Update: Nzalae Primary School

September, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Nzalae Primary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Faith Kilonzi. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Nzalae 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!

The Nzalae Primary School community remains happy about the performance of their rainwater tank for the last year. They are proud of the project and applaud it for its contribution to bettering lives of the students.

"We are enjoying the unlimited supply of clean drinking water in school from the water project," 14-year-old student Faith Kilonzi remarked.

Students and parents of the school are no longer required to carry water to school as the water project as been providing enough water for the school population.

"The school community now has more time to engage in academic affairs as no time is wasted in search of water or routine interruptions occasioned by water challenges in the past, we are anticipating for improved grades," said Deputy Headteacher Mr. Musyoka.

The school community enjoys a constant supply of clean water from the tank. General cleanliness within the school has significantly improved as school amenities are cleaned on a regular basis, leading to increased hygiene and sanitation standards.

"A handwashing trend has developed among students as we have hand washing facilities and enough water in them, this has helped improve the levels of hygiene and sanitation within the school," Faith said.

"General cleanliness within the school has improved as school amenities are well cleaned on a regular basis."

The school plans to start a tree-planting program in a bid to utilize available water resources.

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 Nzalae 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 Nzalae 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 Sponsor - Pineapple Fund