Solar heated water, Kyamulinga School, Uganda
One huge issue for many schools in rural Uganda is the lack of on-site water. The implications of this might not even occur to many of us in the U.S.; imagine an entire primary school without a place to get a drink of water, wash one’s hands, or draw water for cooking lunch and cleaning the dishes afterwards. But the implications go far beyond the inconvenience of no running water. A school full of kids needs water to function, so kids, mostly girls, are given the task of hiking to muddy ponds where they fill 5-gallon jugs with water shared with livestock and sometimes laced with parasites. For girls this means missing classes, enduring vulnerability to assault, and toiling to haul the heavy water back to school. For all of the kids, this means having to use dirty water.
How can this problem be solved? It’s not that hard, but it requires a little cash, primarily for cement and pumps, and a lot of hard work, which the school communities are eager to contribute. At the Kyamulinga School, a recent One School partner, we helped purchase building supplies and the school community dug a hole and built a brick cistern to catch the plentiful rain that falls during the rainy season. The kids use a treadle pump to move the water from the cistern to holding tanks. To this was added a solar hot water heater that drains to a spigot where kids can wash their hands with hot, clean water. At Kukanga, One School’s current partner school, we again worked with the school community to build a cistern and infrastructure to catch rainwater.
Such seemingly small changes make a huge difference for all of the kids that attend these schools, but especially for the girls who no longer have to hike and wade to water holes and endure the threat of violence.