In the late 1990s, a team from Practical Action Peru carried out research in the San Martin area of northern Peru to find out how it could help schools to help themselves and the local community.
The researchers began by investigating the schools themselves. It soon became clear that teachers had few resources - such as books and visual aids - to help make lessons interesting. With little money to buy anything new, schools were struggling to inspire children.
When the research team looked more closely at the community as a whole, it discovered that there was no system for collecting rubbish. As a result, rubbish was often dumped in rivers and streams, contaminating local water supplies and causing illness. Local people didn't realise that they could use biodegradable rubbish for compost and didn't see any use for non-biodegradable rubbish such as plastic bottles, oil cans and tins.
Working with teachers and local authority officials, the team from Practical Action began to implement a scheme to help the community by harnessing the enthusiasm of local schools and their pupils.