Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 523 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 02/28/2024

Project Features

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Community Profile

At Kaliwa Secondary School, the school administration only expects the once-a-week water delivery to last for around two hours.

"After that, it's survival [of] the fittest," said our field officer Jefferson Mutie.

Since there are no natural water sources nearby, the school pays a hefty price to obtain water for its 490 students each week from a local "boozer" (water vendor). However, the company is not reliable. Their workers have broken the school's equipment, like pumps and tanks, on several occasions when filling up the school's water reserves. The delivery is often late without notice.

With many of the students boarding on the school campus, the water is stretched across as many uses as possible before it vanishes. Then, students wait for days at a time for the next delivery.

The water the school gets—whether it's from the boozer or the day students tasked with toting a full jerrycan to school each day—is from unknown sources, and is therefore of questionable quality.

"Some students often complain about stomach pains, while others have dysentery," said Jefferson. "We are also not sure about the water day scholars to take from home. The water from boozers isn't very safe at all."

As you can imagine, with so little water, it's difficult for both staff and students to accomplish much academically, let alone cook meals, bathe, wash their clothes, or wash their hands.

"Life in school has been not as good as I expected due to [the] water scarcity," said 17-year-old student Junior M (pictured above). "Due to water rationing, at times I find myself wearing clothes not being washed for days. Also, I skip bathing one or two days a week. My attention in class is low due to overthinking about where to get water. In our dormitories, we often get into arguments with students related to water."

This situation weighs heavily on the school's principal, David Mwangie (shown above). "Personally, I do not have peace in my life," David said. "Looking at students going for days without water in the school to drink or wash their clothes gives me a migraine. It calls for proper organization and sacrifices to get water for the school. If I miss water, I miss peace."

A reliable source of water on school grounds will improve the living standards of the students and lessen their daily burden.

Rain Tank

We will build a 104,000-liter rain tank for this school, making the others look tiny in comparison. Because of how rarely it rains in Southeastern Kenya, this tank's large volume is designed to store as much water as possible during the seasonal rains, making more water available through the dry months. This water will benefit the students, teachers, and supplementary staff.

Parents will mobilize the materials needed for construction, including sand, stones, and water. They will also lend their strength and time to help with the construction. We will complement their materials with a skilled artisan to lead the project in addition to providing the tools, lumber, metal, cement, and gutter system.

As soon as the tank has time to cure, it can begin collecting rainwater for the school's use.


We will train students and staff on sanitation, hygiene, and other topics for 1 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 rain tank and handwashing stations.

Handwashing Stations

A total of 3 handwashing stations will be installed upon the project’s completion and before training. These are 1,000-liter plastic tanks fitted with 3 taps each, allowing 9 students to wash their hands at once. The student health club and school management will be responsible for making sure the tanks are filled with water and that a cleaning agent such as soap or ash is always available.

Project Updates

November, 2023: Kaliwa Secondary School Rain Tank Complete!

Kaliwa Secondary School School in Kenya now has access to a new, safe, clean water source thanks to the completion of their 104,000-liter rain tank! In addition, we installed handwashing stations and trained students and staff on improved sanitation and hygiene practices. Together, these components will unlock the opportunity for these students to live better, healthier lives.

Students celebrating at the rain tank.

17-year-old Hellen M shared, "I have often been exposed to infections like typhoid in the past. For instance, I had to stay home for a week last year due to sickness, and I missed a lot of classwork [which] led to a [less than] impressive academic score. I am happy that this tank will provide clean water for drinking, and I will no longer have to go home to seek treatment. There will also be enough water to wash my clothes, and I can attend classes feeling confident, without distraction. These perks will promote a good academic score."

Hellen M.

"Conducting basic hygiene chores like washing my clothes and cleaning the facilities in our school was challenging because water was rationed to once weekly, leading to water scarcity. Even getting clean water to drink was hard, let alone acquiring water to irrigate crops that are crucial in the study of agriculture. I will now be performing proper hygiene and sanitation to ensure I am comfortable during my stay in school. I will no longer be absent from school due to water-related infections like amoeba; thus, my grades will soar higher, especially in the agriculture subject, which is the backbone of our community."

Rain Tank Construction Process

First, we held a meeting with all parents and the school headteacher to plan the project. The parents agreed to collect construction materials like sand, rocks, and water. We complemented their materials by delivering the expertise, tools, lumber, metal, cement, and gutter system.

This tank is a whopping 104,000 liters because of how rarely it rains in Southeastern Kenya. Therefore, the more water the tank can store during the seasonal rains, the more water will be available through the dry months for the students.

Construction for this large rain tank is much like constructing a concrete house. First, we leveled the ground for foundation excavation. Next, we laid alternating layers of impermeable rocks and mortar up to seven feet high for the tank's outer walls. With such a sturdy construction (the walls have internal and external diameters of 25 and 28 feet, respectively!), the tank will stand for a long time.

Rain tank in construction.

We built a reinforced concrete column up to the tank's center, which holds the roof and prevents it from caving in. We then plastered the walls inside and out with waterproof cement. After that, we installed guttering and channeled it into the tank. Finally, we installed the roofing, made of iron sheets and timber with vents to allow rainwater into the tank from the gutters.

Completed Rain Tank.

Handwashing Stations

We delivered three new handwashing stations in time for training. Each of these new stations has three taps so that nine students can wash their hands simultaneously.

Students at the handwashing station.

New Knowledge

We trained on a variety of health, hygiene, and sanitation topics. These included student health club activities, disease transmission and prevention, personal hygiene, handwashing, water hygiene, food hygiene, latrine hygiene, and soap making.

Soap-making training.

"This training will be useful in our lives because we will improve hygienic practices like handwashing and blocking disease transmission routes. This will help in disease prevention and living healthy lives. We will also utilize the knowledge gained from soap-making to earn some money that can be used to pay our school fees. We will teach our siblings and guardians to ensure hygiene improves in all aspects. Proper use of our latrines will also be considered since it is also an easy way of disease prevention. We feel more empowered and knowledgeable now," shared 17-year-old Evason K.


This project required a substantial collaboration between our staff, our in-country teams, and the community members. When an issue arises concerning the rain tank, the students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact their local field officers to assist them.

Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our monitoring and maintenance program. We walk with each community, problem-solving together when they face challenges with functionality, seasonality, or water quality. Together, all these components help us strive for enduring access to reliable, clean, and safe water for this community.

With your contribution, one more piece has been added to a large puzzle of water projects. In Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone, we're working toward complete coverage. That means reliable, maintained water sources within a 30-minute round trip for each community, household, school, and health center. With this in mind, search through our upcoming projects to see which community you can help next!

Thank you for making all of this possible!

September, 2023: Kaliwa Secondary School Rainwater Catchment Project Underway!

The lack of adequate water in Kaliwa Secondary School costs students time, energy, and health every single day. Clean water scarcity contributes to community instability and diminishes individuals’ personal progress.

But thanks to your recent generosity, things will soon improve here. We are now working to install a reliable water point and improve hygiene standards. We look forward to sharing inspiring news in the near future!

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!


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