Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 361 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2020

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 05/08/2024

Project Features

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In order to have water for the day, students at Kithoni Primary School must travel 1.5 kilometers to a river channel to fill their containers with water from a seasonal and unprotected spring.

It is depended upon by the whole village as it is the sole water point in Kithoni. Community members and livestock flock to the water point in search of water, with the surrounding environment consequently littered with animal waste and other dirty materials that contaminate the water.

The students must then walk all the way back to school with the water they fetched. Academic time is lost due to this process and then students will fall ill from time to time due to drinking the unsafe water. This cycle makes it difficult for students to realize their potential in school.

"In the morning, we are sent to the water point to fetch water for cooking and other uses," said 13-year-old Mutio Muathe.

"It deprives us of our valuable school time which we could use for personal studies and consultations with our teachers to help improve our grades."

Kithoni Primary School was started by the Kithoni Catholic Church in 1981 under the Catholic Diocese of Machakos. The church initiated construction of its first buildings and acquired the piece of land where the school sits. The school was later handed over to the government to operate under the management of Makueni District Education Board. The school has no official sponsors and has grown through the support of parents and the government.

The school is located in a peaceful, rural area which is relatively vegetated comprised of planted exotic trees and homegrown indigenous trees. Some of the school buildings look old, while others are newly constructed buildings in decent and good shape.

The levels of hygiene and sanitation at the school are below average due to lack of adequate water supply within the school. This has led to poor cleanliness levels at the latrines and other school other facilities.

"This has made the learning environment for the kids not that good," said deputy headteacher Stella Kimanthi when talking about the school's sanitation problems.

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

March, 2020: Kithoni Primary School Project Complete

Please note, all photos in this report were taken before social distancing recommendations went into place.

Kithoni Primary 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.

Rain Tank

Kithoni Primary is affiliated with the Kwa Voki 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.

Handwashing Stations

3 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 9 students can wash their hands at the same time.

New Knowledge

To enable the pupils to improve their hygiene and sanitation, we organized a training to take place after the tank was complete. Advance notification of the scheduled training enabled the school administration to mobilize the students and the teachers for their participation. Our team arrived to find 338 students and 12 teachers in attendance.

The venue for the training was under a tree within the school compound. This was the only available space within the school that could fit all the participants since there so many!

The pupils had several expectations about the training which were captured in an open discussion. Some of their expectations were to learn about handwashing, water hygiene, and personal hygiene, among others. We used an approach known as Child Hygiene and Sanitation Training (CHAST) to train the pupils. This approach aims at improving children’s behavior, especially those in schools. The participation was very good and all the participants' concentration levels were high throughout the session.

We went over topics including student health club activities; disease transmission; preventing the spread of disease; personal hygiene; handwashing; water hygiene; food hygiene; latrine hygiene; and soapmaking.

“The training was very good and we have learned a lot of things which are beneficial to both the pupils and teachers," said student Catherine after the training.

"We will improve our hygiene and sanitation behaviors at home and here at school and this will enable us to have good health and hygiene habits."

Thank you for making all of this possible!

January, 2020: Kithoni Primary School project underway!

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

Get to know this 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