Project Status

Project Type:  Rainwater Catchment

Regional Program: Southeastern Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 272 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Mar 2024

Functionality Status:  Functional

Project Features

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Community Profile

The 256 students and 16 teachers at Ithunzi Primary School face water scarcity every day. Constantly searching for, collecting, and carrying water long distances leaves students exhausted.

The small rain tank (10,000 liters) on their school campus can't possibly hold enough water to meet all of their needs for drinking, cooking, handwashing, and cleaning the latrines. When it rains, which is infrequent in this semi-arid climate, the water collected is only enough to last them a few days.

And when the tank does have water, the administration must ration portions per student to make it last as long as possible, leaving pupils thirsty even after waiting extended times in long lines for their turn (as shown above).

"We do not have a school feeding program, and we have to carry water from home. Thus, I am most hungry and thirsty in class due to the acute water shortage. We are also sent home to get water when we come to school empty-handed. Like last week when one of my classmates was sent home to acquire water and did not return until yesterday," said 14-year-old Rose K. (shown below).

As Rose commented, students must collect water wherever they can find it and bring it to school with them. Most often, they resort to scoop holes dug in dry riverbeds (like the one shown below), but this requires walking kilometers before school even begins. As you can imagine, by the time they get to school, they are late and already exhausted, finding it hard to concentrate.

If they do manage to collect water at the scoop holes, which dry out quickly, the water found is less than ideal for drinking. It is muddy and often contaminated by both humans and animals, but they have no other options. Drinking dirty water leads to frequent cases of water-related infections like typhoid, amoeba, and dysentery for both students and staff, causing them to miss school.

The only other alternative when the scoop holes are dry is for students to walk to Kiambere Dam, which is four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the school and very far from most students' homes. Even if students muster up the energy to trek that far, they face another danger once they arrive. The area is infested with crocodiles, and collecting water there puts them at serious risk of injury or worse.

"I cannot perform my duties as required because we need the students to be in school, and most of them are usually absent due to lack of water at home or sickness. More than ten pupils are not in school today because of water-related reasons. The water in the school is also contaminated, and I cannot drink it. Students have often been diagnosed with typhoid and amoeba after drinking the water," said 42-year-old headteacher John Mutua Nzoka (shown above).

The students at Ithunzi Primary School need a reliable water source that can provide them easy, quick access to water so they can return to the classroom instead of wandering the community in search of water. And they also need access to clean water that will not make them ill, so they don't suffer needlessly and miss more valuable learning time.

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

March, 2024: Ithunzi Primary School Rain Tank Complete!

Ithunzi 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 hand-washing 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.

53-year-old teacher James Ireri said, "This water point is of great benefit to us because we will now [have] enough clean water in the school for us and our pupils to drink. These learners had to carry water from home every day, which was a tedious activity due to the long journey of even up to 3km (almost 2 miles!). They will now get water in school that they can drink easily without fear of getting infections like typhoid or amoeba. We will also be washing our classrooms more often. We could only do [a] cleaning of classrooms during closing day [or] opening day."

Teacher James Ireri.

"The water is clean and safe for us to drink; thus, learners will not be exposed to infections like diarrhea, stomach upsets, or other water-related infections that usually force them out of school. They will now be present for their classes and get better grades, which are crucial in their adult life. Their food will be prepared on time, enabling them to get more time and focus on their studies. Students will be happier to come to school because of the availability of water, which ensures higher literacy levels in the community," James continued.

As you can imagine, children were just as excited as adults!

"Sometimes our parents would be asked to carry water to school, but that will no longer be the case. My mother will now focus on farming and taking care of us. This rainwater tank will be helpful to us because we will have enough clean water to drink and wash our hands. I will no longer be absent from school again when there is no water to carry because we now have enough water in the school," shared 15-year-old Grace.

Grace at the rain tank.

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.

Concrete for the project!

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 for the students through the dry months.

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 from the gutters into the tank.

Completed rain tank.

Hand-washing Stations

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

New handwashing stations!

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, hand-washing, water hygiene, food hygiene, latrine hygiene, and soap-making.

Learning proper handwashing techniques.

This training was a success! Two hundred seventy-eight participants, including the students and school staff, gathered under a tree on the grounds for the training. A very engaging topic was soapmaking. A commodity once thought impossible to make and only to be bought, the students were excited about the opportunity to create a cleaner environment at school and home and the income possibilities of selling the soap. The students were so engaged a few boys climbed up the tree to get a closer look!

Learning how to make soap.

Kennedy, 13, president of the Child Health Club, said, "This training will positively change our lives since we've learned all that a healthy life entails. We will use the training to help our friends and other community members understand the importance of hygiene in disease prevention. We will teach them the soapmaking skill, which will help us get money when we sell the soap."


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!

February, 2024: Ithunzi Primary School Rainwater Catchment Underway!

The lack of adequate water at Ithunzi Primary School costs students and teachers their 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!


4 individual donor(s)