Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 261 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2018

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/21/2024

Project Features

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Katalwa Primary School was started in 1966 by community members. It was later sponsored by a local church and has grown a lot. There are nine classrooms, a kitchen, latrines, and administration offices. There are also two 20,000-liter tanks adjacent to the classroom buildings. Enrollment is 249 students, who are taught by nine teachers. The school also employs two support staff.

The surrounding area is a peaceful, hilly rural area. Many of the students attend class in classrooms that are much more comfortable than their own homes. Homes in Katalwa are old and are missing windows.

Most students' parents are part of the Katalwa Jipe Moyo Self-Help Group, which works to address the severe water and food shortage in the area. They've seen how water scarcity has affected their children at school.


The school has two rainwater catchment tanks that can store a maximum of 40,000 liters. These are both functional. Unfortunately, 40,000 liters does not last the school through the dry season. There are taps fed by a local water pipeline, but this is shut off during the dry season too. During these months, students must carry water to school. Often, they find it by digging holes in the dry sandy riverbeds. Balancing a heavy container with books makes for a strenuous walk to school every morning.

This water is used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Cleaning takes the back-burner since drinking and cooking are essential.


Classrooms and latrines can't be cleaned on a daily basis because of strict water rationing.

"Our levels of hygiene are below average. We lag behind because we lack enough water, as well as the facilities to sustain handwashing in our school," Deputy Headteacher Simon Kamau admitted.

There are only four useable latrines; two for boys, one for girls, and one for teachers. As Mr. Kamau told us, there are no places to wash hands before returning to class.

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 at home. They will learn all of the steps to proper handwashing, 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 handwashing stations.

Handwashing Stations

Three handwashing 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 (edited for clarity) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.

Project Updates

October, 2019: Giving Update: Katalwa Primary School

A year ago, your generous donation helped Katalwa 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 Katalwa Primary School. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this school maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…

February, 2019: Katalwa Primary School Has Water!

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

A new rainwater catchment system was built! Katalwa 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

The area field officer Mr. Musau visited the school and informed them on the need to have a children's hygiene and sanitation training after the construction of a water tank. The headteacher agreed to the request and set up a date for the activity, informing all the pupils and teachers that they should attend.

Attendance was as expected with 175 pupils and eight teachers present. A number of students and a teacher had already left for district music festival competitions in Mwingi after the school excelled at the zonal level. This lowered the expected attendance, but the present pupils pledged to share the new hygiene concepts learned with their peers. Since there was no room inside a classroom for such a large group, we gathered outside in the shade of trees.

We taught:

- Personal hygiene

- Food and water hygiene, along with water treatment

- Latrine hygiene

- How germs spread and how to build barriers

- Handwashing

- How to make soap


Students loved the illustrations of good and bad hygiene practices, which really helped them to grasp how their daily habits impact their health. The hands-on activities invited watchful eyes and laughter as students observed their peers trying new things like remembering each step of proper handwashing.

Students scrambled to volunteer themselves for holding up illustrations of good and bad hygiene practices.

"The training was very interesting and I learned a lot. I have learned about personal hygiene and water hygiene. I never knew the best time to brush my teeth but through this training, I have learned," 14-year-old Muthwii Kilonzi shared.

Muthwii Kilonzi

"We will no longer suffer from diarrhea and stomachaches. I also learned about soapmaking and handwashing. We are very happy and grateful for having this important activity!"

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.

Rainwater Catchment Tank

Katalwa Primary School is affiliated with the Katalwa Jipe Moyo 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.

Piles of stones that parents brought to the construction site to be used to construct the tank wall along with our rebar and 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.

These women are mothers to students attending Katalwa Primary, and they worked hard alongside our artisans.

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 cured (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, and gaps that exist can be identified through our ongoing monitoring visits.

The finished tank awaiting its first rainy day.

"This project will be a gamechanger for the school community. Pupils and parents will no longer be burdened with tasks of ferrying water to school once [the tank is] filled with water," shared Deputy Headteacher Simon Kamau.

He continued to say, "Clean water will always be available for drinking, cooking and washing the school facilities. The hygiene and sanitation training will be instrumental in ensuring that pupils lead high levels of cleanliness both inside and outside the school."

"We are happy to have such an amazing water project at Katalwa Primary School!"

June, 2018: Katalwa Primary School Project Underway

A severe clean water shortage at Katalwa 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: Katalwa Primary School

September, 2019

A year ago, your generous donation helped Katalwa Primary School in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Muthwii 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 Katalwa Primary School.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Katalwa 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!

Katalwa Primary School enjoys an adequate clean water supply from their rain tank since its implementation last year. This is helping transform their environment and make life better for the students here.

"We now have enough clean water supply for drinking, cooking, and cleaning," said Deputy Head Teacher Stephen Kamau to our team during a recent visit.

The students are no longer required to carry water to school since the water project has been providing for all water needs. Students can now report to school on time and take up personal studies without the burden of carrying water. In addition, cases of stomach problems and hospital visits - problems often caused by waterborne illnesses - by students have significantly reduced since the available water is clean and from a trusted source.

"We are now learning in a more decent and conducive environment courtesy of water from the tank," said Muthwii Kilonzi, a 14-year-old student.

"General levels of cleanliness have improved with classes being cleaned regularly. The hygiene training and provision of handwashing facilities is helping create a culture of washing hands before meals and after visiting latrines by students."

The school is now able to look to the future, thanks to the relief provided by reliable access to water from the rain tank. Administrators say the school is planning to start a boarding wing, something that they hoped to do for a long time but were held back due to the lack of water at the school. With the rain tank, they now can begin expanding the school.

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 Katalwa 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 Katalwa 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.


2 individual donor(s)