Water Harvesting for Sustainable Livelihoods, Food Security and Development in Kenya


Water is arguably the most basic requirement to life; it is needed in all spheres of life and that is why since the start of civilization people have always established settlements close to the sources of water. Despite its immense importance, many people especially in the rural areas do not yet have access to safe, reliable and convenient sources of water.

The UNESCO/UNITWIN Chair, the College of Architecture and Engineering (UoN), and Other stakeholders are seeking to use innovative ways to address the challenges in the water sector. The project requires baseline data on the available water resources as well as their accessibility, utilization, management and preservation, rainwater harvesting technologies currently used, food and nutrition, security, health, hygiene and sanitation status. The project documents the lessons learnt to to aid in replication in ares of the same characteristics.


This Project was initiated by the UNESCO/UNITWIN Chair, the College of Architecture and Engineering, University of Nairobi, K-Rep Development Agency and TEKNO International in 2011. The project is mainly on Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) for sustainable livelihoods and improved food security in Tulimani Division, Makueni County.

Following the successful implementation of the Tulimani Project, The Chair received further funding in the year 2014 to extend the Project to Rombo Division in Kajiado County where, it aims to replicate the experiences that are similar to those of Tulimani Division in addition to those that are unique to the region.



The project’s main objective is to promote rainwater harvesting technologies, utilization and management, building capacity in rainwater harvesting among communities/land users for sustainable livelihoods and food security in the arid and semi-arid region of Makueni and Kajiado Counties.



  1. To promote and adopt appropriate rain water harvesting techniques within the communities;
  2. To reduce the number of people affected by water-borne diseases in the communities;
  3. To enhance the capacity of the community members targeted to improve the nutrition and health of their households through income generating activities (IGA);
  4. To promote use of greenhouse technology for food production using drip irrigation
  5. Contribute to research and innovation at the community level.


     i. Household Baseline

The project involves carrying out a household baseline conducted by University of Nairobi together with other stakeholders with the aim of providing data on the available water sources, accessibility, management, rain water harvesting technologies being used, food and nutrition,  health, hygiene and sanitation status in the Project sites of Makueni and Kajiado Counties. 

On the basis of the data collected from the study, recommendations are made on the best water harvesting techniques to provide water for domestic, livestock and irrigation use. The valuable information obtained from the study becomes useful in addressing the issue of food security and water, hygiene and sanitation. Once implemented in the project site, the information will be shared for replication in other like areas in the Counties hosting the project sites.

     ii. Target Groups

The Project Primarily targets all members of the society with different emphasis on different classes of the target group, i.e.:

  • Women Groups - water for domestic use is seen as a prerogative of the woman in rural communities.
  • Youth Groups – Keeping them engaged and making them feel part of the community and promoting self-employment via agri-business through use of taught technologies and innovations.
  • Community Groups – using existing groups with diverse membership in order to maintain inclusivity and promote cohesion in the community.

     iv. Implementation

This is the actual implementation of the learnt techniques, the innovations and new technologies. For examble, installation of GreenHouses, Water Tanks, Preparation of Water Pans and sensitization of on roof water harvesting.

     v. Capacity Building

This involves training of target groups on various methods on how to maintain a sustainable livelihood from the learnt innovations and implemented project. These include training in:

  • Rain water harvesting techniques
  • Land Management
  • Health and Hygiene (Water use, safety, treatment and prevention of waterborne diseases
  • Food production and Environmental conservation
  • Dissemination of information to other community members (T.o.T)
  • Resource Management and ownership (shared boreholes, water pans, conflict resolutions, e.t.c)
  • Basic book keeping
  • Savings and credit (Sacco) or table banking
  • Market linkages