Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 332 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/09/2024

Project Features

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Kithumba Primary School is nestled in a hilly area with steep slopes and a rough terrain. The climbing road meanders back and forth to enable smooth driving, a trip that took us about two and a half hours each way.

The school was started in 1958 by local parents who didn't want to see their children travel so far to get an education. The facilities at the more than half-century-old school certainly look their age.

Students arrive by 7:30am to clean their classrooms and latrines before normal lessons at 8:20am. As with most Kenyan primary schools, they end the day with games, a study hall, and dismissal at 5pm.

The community living here has invested in farming fruit, the majority specializing in mangos.


A large cement tank was constructed during the school's first days back in the 60s, but it has since crumbled and become unusable.

Since the school lacks a reliable source of water, students are required to bring water in five to 10-liter containers each day. Water carried by the students is from various unknown sources, but is pooled together and used by the entire school. Balancing this burden with the schoolbooks they already carry is difficult, and students arrive tired before the day even begins. The water stored in a large plastic storage tank and accessed throughout the day for drinking and other needs.

This water must be rationed because it is not enough to clean the school compound and meet everyone's drinking needs. Cases of amoeba and typhoid are on the rise as a result of students and teachers using this water.

"We lack a clean water supply in school. Tasking pupils to carry water on a daily basis is burdening and has never been our wish, it is the only way out. Many of our pupils and staff have been diagnosed with amoeba and typhoid because of drinking the available water," Headteacher Mutinda said.


There isn't enough water to spare for good hygiene and sanitation at the school.

There's none for cleaning latrines, so ash is kept at the latrines to sprinkle around and keep the smell down. There's no water for washing hands after using the latrine, either.

"Our levels of hygiene and sanitation in school are below average. This school is found on a very poor background with no distinct water sources and lack of financial ability to afford clean water. Dirty water has exposed us to poor health conditions found on many cases of waterborne diseases," Headteacher Mutinda added.

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

October, 2019: Giving Update: Kithumba Primary School

A year ago, your generous donation helped Kithumba 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 Kithumba 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: Great News from Kithumba Primary School!

We are extremely excited to share that the rainwater tank at Kithumba 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: Kithumba Primary School Construction Complete

A new rainwater catchment system was built! Kithumba 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

Hygiene and sanitation training was planned and organized by Field Officer Jeff Maluki. The school leadership confirmed a suitable date that would allow the maximum number of students and teaching staff to attend. Thanks to this work ahead of time, school attendance on the day of training was overwhelming. We met outside since there wasn't a place for the entire student body to be together. Thankfully, the school grounds had good trees to shade us from the sunny weather.

They learned about properly handling food and water, preventing diarrhea by building barriers through good daily habits, and making soap.

Students most enjoyed the sessions on water handling and making soap. We talked them through all of the potential points that water can get contaminated, from source to storage. To address these potential contaminants, we taught about different ways to treat drinking water. Water in this area is so scarce, so students wanted to learn all about how they could keep the water in their new tank clean.

For the soap activity, the teachers helped us present the recipe for soap among students. Once the teachers got the process down, groups of students took over for them. The headteacher said that the staff and their students will use this recipe to make soap throughout the year, acknowledging that no longer buying soap would save a lot of money.

"This training will be of great importance to us as pupils. We will not be getting sick as has been the case, especially with stomach problems because we now know that germs cause diseases - especially from contaminated food and water," 12-year-old student Mutua Kioko shared.

Mutua Kioko

"We will improve our habits of handwashing because [you] brought us handwashing stations that we promise to keep filled with water and use."

Handwashing Stations

Two large handwashing stations were delivered to the school in time for training. Each of these has three taps so that six students can wash their hands at the same time.

"The hygiene training and the handwashing facilities will be instrumental in improving our hygiene and cleanliness level here in school," Mutua Kioko said during his interview with us.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

Kithumba Primary School is affiliated with the Kakwa 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.

Women sifting through the sand to be mixed with concrete.

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.

Once the tank has dried sufficiently, it begins to collect rainwater, and we look forward to sharing another update once that happens. School leadership is armed with the technical skills to ensure that the water tank remains functional. Gaps that exist can be identified through ongoing monitoring visits.

"We are thankful for this tank project. It will help us stop carrying water to school, which has been tedious. It provides clean water from within our school compound," Mutua Kioko said.

April, 2018: Kithumba Primary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at Kithumba 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 Videos

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: Kithumba Primary School

September, 2019

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

Keeping The Water Promise

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

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Kithumba 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!

Things at Kithumba Primary School have improved in the year since the completion of their water project. The students are enjoying a sufficient supply of water from the tank. Development projects are underway and the school is progressing well due to consistent access to water.

During a recent visit to the school, our teams were struck by the fact that the view and compound organization of Kithumba Primary School has changed drastically in the past year. The school is undergoing renovations of the classrooms and there are many trees and flowers planted at the center of the school. The nearby latrines look very organized with the handwashing stations positioned strategically, painting a school with high hygiene and sanitation standards.

"The water tank has helped us a lot. We have had water throughout the year which is a great achievement for the school. An adequate supply of water has reduced the financial strains we had of purchasing water during the term," said Head Teacher Titus Mutinda.

"The money we used for purchasing water is now channeled to developmental projects. We are renovating the classrooms, to ensure they are conducive for the students to learn. The availability of water has also enabled us to resume our feeding program, which was on hold for a while due to inadequate water supply."

Students are no longer required to carry jerry cans of water to the school and this is a great relief to them. This was a major cause of students' absenteeism and dropouts. The school has registered better school attendance by the students as well as better academic performances in the year.

"The water we attain is very sweet and fresh for drinking. We no longer carry water to the school and the food is always prepared on time," said 15-year-old student Hellen Mwende.

The students appear lighter and brighter as they enjoy the water from the tank. Handwashing is now an adopted habit among students. The latrines are clean and have no odor, as they did before when they were not cleaned.

"As a member of the health club we have been in charge of the hygiene and sanitation facilities and we ensure they always have water," said Hellen.

"Students wash their hands after visiting the latrines and this has reduced the rates of contracting diseases such as stomachaches."

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 Kithumba 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 Kithumba 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 - The Lifeplus Foundation