Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 184 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Nov 2023

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 06/05/2024

Project Features

Click icons to learn about each feature.

Community Profile

School administrators at Ngungani Primary School ask the 172 students and 12 staff members to bring their own water with them to school each day. Except, most of the time, the students have no water at home to bring because, in this drought-ravaged region, water is scarce everywhere.

If there isn't water to spare at home, students' only option would be to fetch water on the way to school, which sounds simple. But this means walking about five kilometers (3.1 miles) to the nearest dry riverbed, where people have dug scoop holes (like the representative one shown in the picture below) to reach the water beneath the dry ground. After this, they must continue their long journey to school through the dusty, drought-stricken terrain.

With all this effort spent for just one day's worth of water, it's understandable why so many kids just skip school when they don't have water at home.

"I hardly get enough water to drink and end up attending my lessons while thirsty, which affects my concentration in my class," said 13-year-old Mary K (pictured below). "This week (and as usual), we only swept our class rather than mopping it, which affects [our] learning environment. I also have to carry water for about three kilometers (1.86 miles) to school, leading to lateness. Like last week, there [was] no water at home, and my mother had to borrow [some] from our neighbor. Conducting personal hygiene is also a challenge since water has to be used sparingly."

The school does have two small rain tanks whose capacity amounts to 10,000 liters of water. But, unfortunately, they dry up almost immediately after each rare rainstorm. If it rained more often in this region, the tanks would have ample opportunities to fill up, but since it only rains a few times a year, the tanks mostly sit empty. The school has been unable to buy or build anything larger because such a large construction project is an expense they can't afford.

The water from the rain tanks is even more precious because the water students bring from the scoop holes is salty and brown. The saltiness of the water means it can't be used to cook food properly. So, when there isn't water in the rain tanks, the school's meal program stops entirely, meaning the pupils must go the entire day without food or water—another devastating blow to their ability to concentrate in class.

"The rampant water shortage means students do not have enough clean water to drink or [for] meal preparation," said 46-year-old headteacher Stephen Mukiti (shown above). "Conducting agriculture programs [for the agricultural students] is also difficult, which has contributed to absenteeism and poor academic scores. I also do not get clean water to drink, since purchasing [it] is mostly unavailable and costly. Setting up more school structures is also negatively affected by the acute water shortage. I sent several pupils home for treatment [today] due to illnesses caused by water-related infections."

As Mr. Mukiti said, the untreated water from the scoop holes hurts the students' health. The scoop holes are open to contamination from dust, animals, and more.

"According to the school's headteacher, students have often been diagnosed with typhoid, stomach upsets, amoeba, and other chronic infections, to the extent of being admitted [to the hospital]," said our field officer, Alex. "They are usually sent home to seek medication, leading to time wastage and subsequently dismal academic performance."

The students at Ngungani have so many odds stacked against them. A high-capacity rain tank right within the school grounds will hopefully grant them more opportunities for better health and education in the future.

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: Ngungani Primary School Rain Tank Complete!

Ngungani Primary 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.

"I am very happy because we will now have enough clean water in the school for drinking, and I will not have to worry about where I can get clean drinking water. The pupils will also achieve better grades because they will concentrate more in class and have enough water to irrigate trees and vegetables in the school," said teacher Leonard Kitemi.

"I am glad I will drink clean water in the school whenever I feel thirsty. Our school will also be able to prepare meals for us because we will have enough water. I am now happy that I will be drinking clean water which does not expose me to infections. It also feels great to know that I will no longer be carrying water from home. I will be arriving at school on time and ready for my classes," said 15-year-old Anthony M.


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.

Community members help collect materials for the building project.

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.

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.

Handwashing Stations

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

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 soapmaking.

"The training was very educative. I have learned how to maintain personal hygiene through proper hand washing, bathing, and tooth brushing, among other practices. I have also learned how to treat drinking water; I will share this knowledge with my family. In addition, we have been shown how to make liquid soap and a latrine disinfectant. Our hygiene and sanitation will improve going onwards. We are very grateful for today's training," said 13-year-old Dorcas M.


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!

October, 2023: Ngungani Primary School Rainwater Catchment Underway!

The lack of adequate water at Ngungani Primary 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!