Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 500 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Sep 2019

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/21/2024

Project Features

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Matiliku Primary School was started by Kawaa community members in the year 1933 when locals donated a small piece of land for the school and initiated fund drives to aid in the construction of its first classrooms. The school was later taken up by the government to operate as a government school, and has since grown to support more than 500 students thanks to the support of parents, the Makueni Constituency Development Fund, and the government.

The school depends on a 4,600-liter plastic water tank that holds water borrowed from the Matiliku Secondary School section or water bought from boozers at Matiliku Market. The current water source provides little water for the huge school population and the high water demands resulting from the existence of boarding facilities.

For perspective, the UN estimates students need five liters of water per day. It is nearly double that for boarding students. That means that the water tank must be filled at least twice a week - a costly and unsustainable solution to the school's water problems.

"Our school lacks enough water for the school community to operate comfortably. Available water is highly rationed making life in school uncomfortable for the boarding pupils. This has led to below average levels of cleanliness," said Headteacher Gabriel Mbindyo.

The day school pupils are sometimes required to carry water to school in a bid to supplement the water in the plastic tank. This burdens and tires the students leading to poor levels of concentration in class. Worse yet, the water they bring is not always safe for drinking. That water is then mixed into the large tank or other big containers and used throughout the day.

Just one bucket of dirty water can contaminate the school's entire supply. That in turn puts the students at risk of waterborne illnesses.

The health and monetary cost of the water shortage here is negatively impacting the students and their learning.

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

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!


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 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.

Project Updates

September, 2019: Matiliku Primary School Project Complete

Matiliku Primary School School in Kenya now has access to a new source of safe, clean water thanks to the completion of their rain tank, which has the ability to collect 104,000 liters of water. We installed handwashing stations and we trained students and staff on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. All of these components work together to unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

"The water tank will be very instrumental in the provision of water to the school community. Students will no longer have to carry jerry cans of water to school as they used to. It was a very exhausting exercise for them and the presence of water in school will be a great relief to them," said Head Teacher Gabriel Mbindyo.

Rain Tank

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

The Process

A meeting with all of the parents and the Head Teacher was then held to plan out the project. Parents agreed to collect construction materials like sand, rocks, and water. We would complement their materials by delivering the expertise, tools, lumber, metal, cement, and gutter system.

This tank is a 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.

Construction for this large rain 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 7 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. The roofing is made of iron sheets and timber. There are vents to allow rainwater into the tank from the gutters.

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.

New Knowledge

Our sanitation and hygiene officer Veronica Matolo planned the training and worked with field officer Jeff Maluki to find a date suitable for the school. More than 500 students were in attendance for the training. It was well attended because the students and teachers were informed about the training in advance. The excitement of the water tank present in the school was also a factor because the students wanted to learn more.

The training was held under a tree in the school compound since the students were too many to fit in 1 room. The environment was favorable and conducive for the training. It was somewhat hot and windy but the shade was enough to accommodate all the students and teachers.

We went over topics including student health club activities; disease transmission and its prevention; personal hygiene; handwashing; water hygiene; food hygiene; latrine hygiene; and soapmaking.

The level of participation was brilliant, all the students were attentive and disciplined thus coordinating well with the facilitator. They were very eloquent in answering questions and volunteering for participatory activities such as soapmaking. The boys were especially active and confident in taking up the challenges presented.

Our trainers were surprised by the fact that the boys were so interested in stirring the soap as a part of the soapmaking process. This was special because the school community has never been taught on such extensive hygiene and sanitation practices which can be useful to them both in school and at home.

"I intend on sharing the skills learned such as soapmaking with my mother to ensure she can also earn an income from selling soap. It is a very simple procedure that I enjoyed learning," said 14-year-old student Evelyn.


The students were keenly taken through proper hygiene and sanitation habits. The critical times for handwashing were discussed, as was the importance of handwashing with clean running water and soap.

This topic was special because the students had the opportunity to highlight their poor hygiene habits and later the proper hygiene habits were mentioned. This was enjoyable because the students learned new skills and knowledge, especially on the proper handwashing procedure.

"The training will be very resourceful in our lives as it’s going to bring a change both at home and here in school. It will help us improve on hygiene," said Evelyn.

Handwashing Stations

The new handwashing stations were delivered in time for training so that they could be used for handwashing demonstrations. Each of these has 3 taps so that 6 students can wash their hands at the same time.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

August, 2019: Matiliku Primary School Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage at Matiliku 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!


Project Sponsor - Lifeplus Foundation