A headmistress of a school in São Tomé stands next to one of the rainwater-storing tanks. WFP / Isabel Pike
On the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, WFP has installed water tanks and fuel-saving stoves in all primary and secondary schools.
SÃO TOMÉ - At the De Conde school nestled in the forested hills of São Tomé, it has just rained and the water tank is overflowing.
“Before the tank, we did not have enough water at school,” said teacher Celicia Santos, who has taught at the school for eight years.
“Clean water is at the core of school feeding”
These tanks are part of a WFP-UNICEF joint project on water, sanitation and hygiene in schools and were set up to collect rainwater for handwashing before meals, cleaning the eating area and for the cooking itself.
“Clean water is at the core of school feeding. Without water, we can’t prepare the food,” said WFP Officer in Charge for São Tomé and Príncipe, Domingos Cunha, adding that this project is the first joint-project between UNICEF and WFP on the islands.
The installation of the tanks and gutters started in 2011 and was completed at the beginning of 2012.
In addition to the tanks, WFP has also installed fuel-efficient stoves in the schools, starting in 2009.
“Before we introduced the stoves, we were hearing concerns from cooks about the smoke, from headmasters about firewood costs and from the Ministry of Environment about the huge devastation of São Tomé’s forests,” said WFP São Tomé and Príncipe Officer in Charge, Domingos Cunha. “All these problems can be solved, at least partly, with one simple tool: the fuel-efficient stove.”
The cost-saving aspect of the stoves is a real help for school administrations, who have to spend around US$ 70 for a small lorry of firewood, which normally lasts a school about three months.
“The new stoves are more comfortable to cook on than the open fire,” said one of the cooks. “Both the smoke and the heat are less.”
But there is one drawback to the energy-efficient stoves: the wood needs to be cut into small pieces in order to be fit in the stoves.
“If the wood is in small branches it is fine, but if it is in big logs, we have to hire young men to cut it,” said Santos.
So far, the stoves have been installed in all primary and secondary schools; installation in kindergartens will begin this year.