How to collect *clean* water in a desert on top of a rock

Question: How do you provide a steady supply of clean water to about 1,500 people in this type of environment….

  • Annual rainfall is about 12-18 inches
  • Sits atop bedrock, making a traditional borehole-style well impossible
  • Nearest possible borehole location is about 47 miles away
  • During the dry season, there may be 6 months without a drop of rain

To solve this real-life riddle faced by the people of Sololo, Northern Kenya, one must employ creativity, resourcefulness and a whole lot of math.
Currently, the nearly 400 students at Sololo Makutano Primary School bring water to school with them every day. They get it from dirty, standing pools used for livestock and washing and carry it in small water bottles.

All the bottles of water are combined and used to cook porridge
for the students’ daily meals. (Photo by Kristin Brooks)

FH hopes to build a water system at this school so students can access clean water throughout the day. The school offers something indispensable to the provision of clean water in Sololo’s harsh environment: a roof.

This roof can be transformed into a permanent, low-maintenance, simple water system. Through a long series of calculations, FH engineers concluded that a gutter system carrying run-off from the roof into a couple of large holding tanks could provide 3.7 liters of water per student, per day…even during the dry season.

3.7 liters might be less than a toilet flush to you and me, but it could mean higher school attendance and even longer lives for the children of Sololo.

This is a water tank of similar construction.

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