Across Africa communities, rural areas are always left behind when it comes to necessities like electricity supply, proper health care, educational institutions and several other facilities.
Over the years, solar energy has been a major contributor to renewable energy generation and electricity supply in different areas. Renewable energy has so far been described as one of the cheapest forms of electricity generation, it is environmentally friendly and reduces carbon emissions in society.
In Sierra Leone, most rural communities don’t have access to electricity supply, they have to walk miles away from homes to big towns so they can be able to charge their electronic devices. They also face huge challenges in preserving food and other items that get spoiled easily.
The United Nations Development Program Global Environmental Fund Small Grant Program (GEF-SGP) funded the Volunteers for Community Development Organisation to initiate “a renewable energy promotion project”, which aims at achieving low carbon rural society through solar charging kiosks and micro-enterprise in three chiefdoms across Kenema, Pujehun and Kailahun District.
The project targeted over 500 people of which 60 per cent are women. The kiosks charged over 60 mobile phones at a time and provided light for pupils in school to study at night.
Sarah Moiwo is a pregnant woman and a farmer living in the Luawa Baoma community, Kailahun District. Sarah is married and has three kids, she said that as a community they have no access to electricity supply before the start of the project in their community and there were challenges in changing most of the electronic devices (radios, phones, etc) and that led to a communication gap between them and their relatives outside of Kailahun.
Items like fish, food, drinks and other stuff used to spoil quickly because they did not have any form of preservation for them.
But with the intervention of Volunteers for Community Development Organisation, things have immensely improved, as they now charge the electronic device within their village without going miles away to do that and can be able to communicate to their relatives anytime they wish. Easily spoiled items can now be preserved as the project also provides a refrigerator for the use of the community.
Amara Bawoh is a father of two kids and a farmer residing in Luawa Baoma, Kailahun District. Like others, Amara is part of the huge number of people who face constraints when it comes to electricity supply. He states that their community was at a high risk of attacks by thieves and criminals who will invade the village at night because there is no light.
When Volunteers for Community Development Organisation introduced the solar project, just like Sarah, Amara said personally for him the project changed his life and that of the community in general. With this project, they are now generating income from the kiosk and these funds are used to support community members who are engaging in businesses and return, they will pay with interest.
He can also now communicate with his relatives at any point in time because he is now able to charge his phone within his village.
About GEF SGP
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), offers grants to innovative, inclusive, and impactful projects that address global environmental and sustainable development issues.
Volunteers for Community Development Organisation
A renewable energy promotion -Achieving a Low-carbon rural society through Solar charging kiosk and Micro Enterprise in Gaura Chiefdom-Kenema District, Kpejeh Chiefdom-Pujehun District. This project is designed to be implemented as a pilot to build three (3) Solarfi kiosks in communities in Gaura chiefdom –Kenema district, Kpejeh chiefdom-Pujehun district and Luawa chiefdom-Kailahun district. This project is also contributing to saving the environment from climate change. The project reduces burning diesel by 87,600 litres per year. These stations can reduce 202.48249 tons or 27084.845 m3 volume per year drastically. (Formula from www.icbe.com/carbondatabase/volumeconverter.asp). Compared to existing practice, 24 HP diesel generators consumed diesel at 12 litres/day 365 days x 12 charging stations = 87,600liters/ year = CO2 202.48249 tons or 27084.845 m3 volume. If they did not use solar they produce this much CO2 volume per year. (Formula from www.icbe.com/carbondata/volumeconverter.asp).
About GEF Small Grant Stories
The GEF Small Grants Stories series is made possible by a grant to VR&C Marketing Company to increase the visibility of the GEF Small Grants Programme in Sierra Leone through the production of blogs and digital media content on the successes of the program.