Water Portal / Rainwater Harvesting / Kajiado, Kenya - 3R and MUS

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Building a rainwater harvesting tank in Kajiado, Kenya. Photo: Ryan's Well Foundation

In Kajiado town, the SASOL Foundation, ICRAF and the Masai Technical Training Institute (MTTI) will implement a project to demonstrate and research the potential of rainwater harvesting for food security, focusing largely on 3R technologies (Recharge, Retention and Re-use).

The project is located near the campus of the training institute in a typical landscape of this region, which consists mainly of rocky soils with course sands. It will explore the potential of rainwater harvesting for food security. A number of check dams that provide water for pasture and watering animals will be installed. The students of Masai Technical Training Institute will be trained to construct small and simple structures to capture runoff water. Through a simple adaptation, the offtake well will provide for cattle as well as people. Documentation on the expected vegetation recovery is to be achieved through satellite imagery. The aim of the project is to demonstrate and research, but also to familiarize an important group of people with the 3R method.

Project period: April 2013- July 2015

Pilot challenge

Current situation

This pilot addresses the most pertinent problem of the area: how to sustainably increase the water availability for cattle and also contribute to pasture improvement. When it rains, water for cattle and pasture are in abundance, but increasingly long dry spells haunt the Masai herds. We therefore look at the opportunity to construct very simple masonry walls in rocky high runoff areas without erosion to increase infiltration, sustainable access to ground water and re-green the area for pasture.

Socioeconomic and cultural conditions

Kajiado central is a growing regional hub for agriculture and pastoralism. The people of this area are predominantly Masai, a culturally rich ethnicity with a high esteem for their cattle. However, large corporations extract groundwater, which leads to less water availability for domestic water supply, especially in the Masai area.

Pilot landscape

Kajiado central is characterised by plains, volcanic hills and valleys with hard and rocky soils, sometimes clayish which is known for its rapid runoff during the rainy season. The project is located on the ridge of a small plateaux where during the two annual rainy seasons a lot of water flows. The aim of the project is to capture that water before it disappears into streams and instead use the water for recharge of groundwater and surface storage.

Pilot purpose

The pilot aims to showcase the opportunities for “rock bottom technology”. This is a simple technology (such as simple masonry walls) that can be implemented with very little skills and locally available material, but will have a profoundly positive impact on the landscape. This low budget technology may be the only one that can produce water and grass at a low cost and be replicable. It also provides an excellent training site for the beginning masons of the Masai Technical Training Institute.

Location and partners

The regions of Kajiado County. Map credit: Albert Kenyani Inima
  • Location: Kajiado central, Kajiado town
  • Main partners: SASOL, Masai Technical Training Institute, ICRAF
  • Role and responsibility of main partner: SASOL will organise the pilot with MTTI. They will negotiate the terms of reference with them and start construction. MTTI will use the site as demonstration. They will also maintain it and use it for fieldtrips.
  • Other partners: ICRAF, MTTI
  • Role and responsibilities of other partners: ICRAF will document the current situation, the changes that took place and train people on the kind of approach.



  1. Demonstrate the potential of low tech interventions in rainwater harvesting for Kajiado landscape.
  2. Make students of MTTI acquainted with the ideas of 3R and train them on dam construction (?)
  3. Provide a permanent reference for interested organisations to visit.
  4. Provide detailed proof of the changes in landscape that can be seen through this intervention.


  1. RAIN contracted SASOL to implement the activities and coordinate them locally (April 2013).
  2. SASOL to provide a detailed construction plan and negotiate with MTTI the terms and conditions. They will then sign an MoU with MTTI on the proceedings (May 2013).
  3. ICRAF will start a baseline of the landscape of the project site and document the ‘no intervention’ situations. They will do this during one dry season and one wet season (May 2013 and October 2013). They will repeat this in October 2014 and May 2015 and document their findings in a publication.
  4. SASOL will coordinate the site selection and construction will start in June 2013.
  5. MTTI will facilitate the building by including the works in their curriculum (September, October, November 2013).
  6. MTTI will write an MoU with the owner of the plot on access (April, May 2013).


This pilot uses the F.I.E.T.S. model of WASH services.

  • Institutional: capacity strengthening of the local Masai Technical Training Institute and its students
  • Environmental: by blocking the runoff valuable water will recharge the groundwater table. It will also be locally available to users for domestic and agricultural use. But more over, to potentially sustain natural vegetation in the area.
  • Technical sustainability: Simple and low cost technology, easy to maintain
  • Themes: 3R MUS, food security
  • 3R and MUS: Water will recharge the groundwater table and be used for cattle and tree planting.
  • Other themes: Strong focus on demonstration, documentation and research

SWOT analysis

Here is a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of the project:

  • Low tech
  • Demo site
  • Student involvement
  • Demo site
  • Output not easy to quantify
  • Beneficiaries not yet known
  • Easy upscaling, even by students
  • If it works, easy to visit and demonstrate
  • ...
  • Ownership of the site is not with MTTI
  • ...
  • ...


Target group

  • Total number of people: yet to be established
  • Type of group (social / cultural): Masai pastoralists and Kenyan students
  • Economic status: very low income
  • Current economic activities: pastoralism, education


  • Type(s) of water harvesting: simple masonry dams
  • Type(s) of storage system(s): in situ/ dams
  • Number of systems: possibly 3 or 4 dams
  • Number of systems at household level: possibly none
  • Number of systems at community / multiple households level: one or several offtakes
  • Number of systems at health centres: none
  • Number of systems at schools: yes, one

Other examples

Provide a list of comparable projects including links to documents or websites:

  • Kenyatta University, Kitui campus plans to going to establish a similar site, but with different technologies
  • SASOL’s MPC South in Wiitu river Mutomo district (cascade of sand dams with greenhouse next to it)
  • National Museums of Kenya Roofwater catchment demonstration site at Museum

Documents, videos and links