Misuuni, Kenya

Project background and History

The Misuuni Program with EWB originated as a request from the Misuuni Development Self Help Group (MDSHG) to drill a well. Subsequent hydrogeologic study sponsored by both EWB-NY and MDSHG showed that drilling a well was feasible but not in the location originally requested. The likelihood of obtaining a reliable well with a sustainable yield was better in the zones of fractured rock located near the Kathaana river lineament1. This larger project will involve a well, pumping system, and rising main to a water storage tank (or tanks) located on higher ground central to the project area.

Further planning is required for this project to be implemented including the establishment of rights-of-way, planning for utility power, and detailed route surveys. While the larger project above is in the planning phase, the need for more accessible water is dire and projects for rainwater harvesting improvements were agreed as a means of providing incremental improvements while the larger project continues in the planning stage.

Project Context

Misuuni is a community located about 70 kilometers southeast of Nairobi, Kenya on a semi-arid high plain covering approximately 3 km by 4 km (Figures below). The project area is bounded by two intermittent streams: the Kathaana River to the east and a tributary of the Muvaa River to the west, known as the Usi Umu stream.

Like many communities in this region, there is inadequate access to potable water. The objective of the MDSHG has been to improve access to potable water and prevent the debilitation of waterborne disease for the approximately 4,000 people scattered across the 12 square kilometer Misuuni program area. There is also a need to alleviate poverty. These issues are intertwined.

Residents of Misuuni collect water from a variety of sources, including shallow dammed impoundments, intermittent streams, boreholes, and/or rooftop rainwater catchment. Public surface water sources (dams and intermittent streams) cost nothing but are unsanitary and unreliable. Groundwater from the MDSHG borehole is bacteriologically safe and costs a moderate amount. Private sources of groundwater may vary in price depending upon supply and demand as well as the excess capacity of the owner.

Project Goals and Objective

The current goal is to improve the rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems at two primary schools.The RWH projects are considered interim improvements while an overall water resources plan is assembled and a larger capital project for groundwater development is pursued. The larger project is currently in the planning phase and steps are being taken in parallel with the interim projects.

The project objective is to increase the quantity and quality of potable water available at the Misuuni Primary School while making routine operation and maintenance easier.

  • Install a more effective gutter system
  • Provide a first flush system
  • Install screens which can be easily cleaned
  • Use HDPE tanks configured in series to improve water quality

Current Status

The new, Misuuni Primary School, RWH system was constructed in August 2018 and is currently serving the 285 students and staff. This construction consists of:

  • Four new 7,200 L HDPE tanks
  • New gutter, piping and appurtenances
  • Two concrete foundation pads constructed, each with two HDPE tanks and a first flush device.

The photos below show various stages of construction of the concrete pads, and assembly of the new guttering system along with the final completed product.


Future Goals

In partnership with the MDSHG, EWB-NY aims to replicate this successful RWH system at a larger primary school in August 2019.  This second school, the Miumbuni Primary School, has a population nearly double the Misuuni Primary School.  The community has already contributed to this RWH project by installing a new metal roof in anticipation of new gutters, piping, and tanks anticipated in April 2019.

How You Can Help

The Misuuni team is currently in search of people with the following skills:

  • Web & IT support
  • Marketing and fundraising
  • Agronomics expert with East Africa experience

Joining the Team

email us at


For donations, click here to visit our project page on the official EWB USA site

Won’t you join us?
Asante Sana!