Rehabilitating Patongo Primary School in northern Uganda

Water and sanitationHealth and education go hand in hand for school children and their families in Uganda.

Date of project implementation Phase 1: 2011-2013
Date of project implementation Phase 2: 2013-
Funder: AG Women Leading Change Foundation
60 Million Girls Foundation
Chatters Canada Limited

Situation – Infrastructure, distance and gender norms pose barriers to education. Especially for girls.

Amref Health Africa uses school infrastructure development as a mechanism to improve equitable access to education. Better access to education leads to better health.

  • Many of the 1,386 students enrolled in Patongo Primary School are girls who live far away. When girls live at home their time is often spent fetching water, cooking, and caring for younger siblings instead of doing homework. As well, the distance of the route to school can put the safety of girls at risk.
  • In remote parts of Uganda communities are unaware of the health benefits of washing hands, boiling water, and using latrines instead of alternative practices. School children can share their knowledge about health with families and neighbours.
  • Because of the 21-year war it is difficult to attract high quality teachers to northern Uganda. Patongo Primary School itself was built in a former Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp and many parents did not receive an education themselves. Building good quality housing will help attract teachers from outside of the region.
  • A lack of classrooms and other basic structures causes overcrowding.
  • In Phase 1, Amref Health Africa built new latrines, a new girls’ dorm, three new classrooms, and teacher housing. The project also delivered solar panels to supply the school with electricity and implemented Personal Sanitation and Hygiene Education to students.

Action – Amref Health Africa helps the community improve health and education by meeting its unique needs.

Amref Health Africa improves the quality of education and health by meeting the needs of the community. Phase 2 will expand on the first phase of the program.

  • Amref Health Africa has already built one dormitory for girls and is building and furnishing another one. These dorms can house 108 girls so that they no longer need to travel such far distances to get an education.
  • Amref Health Africa will provide support for Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Education (PHASE) programs through music, dance, and drama. Children will learn about hand washing, boiling water, and latrine use. Kids will then teach the wider community about the health benefits of these practices.
  • Amref Health Africa will build nine more classrooms as well as a library to reduce overcrowding and create a more conducive learning environment.
  • Two new teacher-housing units will attract additional and highly qualified educators, helping to reduce the student-to-teacher ratio.

“Together with a functioning well, the school is progressing steadily towards an environment which can promote vital WASH [water sanitation and hygiene] habits amongst the students, and in turn, the community.” -Conrad Koczorowski, Operational Research Officer at Amref Health Africa, 2013

Results – Children are key agents in bringing health, well-being and lasting peace to their communities.

The Patongo Primary School is a safer, healthier, and more conducive learning environment.

  • Girls are safer because they do not need to travel such great distances to attend school.
  • The wider Patongo community will practice safer hygiene and sanitation.
  • Better infrastructure and higher quality teachers will improve the educational experience of the nearly 1,400 students at the primary school.
  • When girls receive health education they tend to delay motherhood and do better financially. When poverty is reduced, health improves. Amref Health Africa empowers girls in northern Uganda to improve the health of the community.


AG Women Leading Change Foundation
60 Million Girls Foundation
Chatters Canada Limited

Project at a glance


By addressing understaffing, overcrowding, and a lack of basic structures and services, the Patongo community in northern Uganda can benefit from a safer, healthier, and more conducive learning environment.

Currently 1,386 students are enrolled at Patongo Primary School.


Build 1 new dorm to house 108 girls with attached washing facilities.

Implement health education program using music, dance, and drama to teach kids about washing hands, boiling water, latrine use and malaria prevention.

Build 9 new classrooms to reduce overcrowding.

Build 2 new teacher housing units to attract high quality educators.


Girls are safer and can focus on their studies.

Children share knowledge about health with their parents and the wider Patongo community.

Reduced overcrowding creates a more conducive learning environment.

More and highly qualified educators are teaching in a war-torn region.

The Patongo School becomes a safer and healthier learning environment.

Kevin O'Neill
Director of Programs

Kevin O'NeillWant to partner with Amref Health Africa in Canada on a health project? Want to know more about our projects? Get in touch with our Director of Programs, Kevin O'Neill.