Uganda: improving education, health and community cohesion through solar power

Solar powered lights provide safety at church entrances

Solar powered lights provide safety at church entrances

Title Uganda: improving education, health and community cohesion through solar power
Description The installation of solar power at seven community centres has provided a community light source where children have been able to do their homework and people have been able to meet safely. By reducing the harmful effects of kerosene fuel for lighting, community members have benefited from improved educational attainment, improved health, community cohesion, and reduced family expenditure and time spent travelling to buy kerosene.
Status Completed
Dates Start: June 2013; End: May 2014
Implementing partner Kasese Baptist Association of Churches – Development Committee (KBAC-DC)
Location Kasese district, Uganda
Sector Electricity/Solar Energy

Situation

Studying by kerosene lamp

Studying by kerosene lamp

In western Uganda the majority of the rural population lack electricity. According to the Overseas Development Institute (2013), only 1.3% of the Kasese District population are provided with electricity from the two major power companies, UMEME and KIC.

Some mountain villages are more than 10km away from the nearest source of mains electricity and, according to UMEME & KIC, are highly unlikely to be connected during the next few years. With no mains electricity, these communities have been heavily dependent on kerosene lamps for lighting. Kerosene fuel is unhealthy, environmentally harmful and expensive to buy.

In many of the off-grid villages, children’s education has suffered because they had no light to study by, health was put at risk by smoke inhalation, and families were trapped in poverty by the ever rising cost of kerosene and confined in their homes after dark for lack of anywhere else to go.

Partner

Cyan worked in collaboration with Kasese Baptist Association of Churches – Development Committee (KBAC-DC) a registered Community Based Organisation (CBO). KBAC-DC is a relatively new CBO and currently works on a selection of environmental-based community development projects.

Response

Solar powered lights provide safety at church entrances

Solar powered lights provide safety at church entrances

Following community baseline mapping, resource mapping and stakeholder consultation with religious and cultural leaders, a four month pilot project was run in October 2012 at Kahokya Baptist Church in Kasese District. Following the success of the pilot project, the scheme was expanded to a further seven community centres, in this case churches.

At each centre, a solar power system was built and installed, providing light within the buildings for evening meetings, an outside light for safe access and multiple mobile phone charging points to help fund the project and produce an income. With each installation an explanation of the project and its uses was explained to the community and nominated project supervisors were trained in how to manage the project.

Outcomes

The provision of a free light source has enabled these community centres to provide for the community’s needs through meeting places, study sessions and mobile phone charging. This has helped the communities to become better connected.

Through enabling children to study in the evenings there has been a contribution to the improved education attainment amongst the beneficiary communities. Additionally the health benefits of cleaner energy, alongside the cost and time savings, have also been noted by students and local head teachers.

 “I am happy for this solar project because it has given me much time to revise my books and this has increased my good academic standard from 20th/30 pupils to 10th/30 pupils…before I was spending 24,000 [£5.50] per month on Kerosene’”
(Mbambu Honoritah Mutunga, 16 years old, student)

Mobile phone charging has not only saved the community the time and money of travel to town for the nearest charging point, but has also enabled the project to become self-sustaining. Travel times have been reduced by between 2 – 8 hours, and a total of £500 has been raised through the scheme. Profits from the phone charging have been reinvested by the churches into new projects specific to the surrounding community’s needs.

Kantale BC Nursery

Kantale Baptist Church Nursery

These projects have included the construction of a nursery building for 50 children, the development of a pig breeding project, bee-keeping and carpentry training. Additionally the Churches have been able to support the bereaved with condolences.

“We really appreciate this project due to our children [coming] for revision, [the] nearest phone charging and the church has managed to help outside members, like sending condolence messages at death ceremonies’”
(Buramu Jorkus, General Secretary for Kikyo Parish)
 

The project will continue to monitor existing locations in the next year and is looking to expand further due to the requests of other churches within the association.

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