Our Powering Villages project is coming to a close
By Alessandra Moscadelli | Head of Communications
I’m reaching out to thank you again for your generous support of our Powering Villages project and let you know that this campaign is now coming to a close.
The scope of this project was undoubtedly ambitious: to supply twenty villages across Kenya and Tanzania with a full spectrum of solar lighting and clean cooking solutions; reliable electricity and cold storage to schools and health clinics; and solar-powered water pumps for safe drinking water and crop irrigation. Taking the 360-degree approach we consider so important, the provision of clean energy was to be coupled with skills-building to support local entrepreneurs – men and women – to run profitable energy-enabled businesses that could grow and create jobs.
However, we were not able to raise sufficient funds to extend the project to the full twenty villages as originally planned. We fell short of our fundraising target as the tough challenges of the last two years meant we could not secure the necessary co-funding from larger donors and foundations.
We are really proud though of the tremendous impact we have achieved so far with your kind donations. As you saw from our reports your generous support has contributed to:
supporting rural entrepreneurs (especially women) to expand their businesses, acquire new electric equipment and offer new products and services to their communities;
installing photovoltaic solar panels to schools and clinics in poor and hard-to-reach areas;
making solar electricity and clean cooking appliances affordable to the poorest households through subsidies.
I would like to reassure you that any remaining funds raised through GlobalGiving will now be channelled towards larger, better-funded programmes that share the same valuable goals and have the potential to reach many more vulnerable communities, beyond 20 villages and across a wider range of geographical regions in Africa.
Not only contributing to the fight against climate change, your support is transforming lives for the better across sub-Saharan Africa. To find out more about how we are providing solutions to people’s most pressing challenges please read our Annual Review.
If you wish to consider supporting our projects further, please visit our website.
Alessandra Moscadelli Head of Communications Energy 4 Impact
Access to electricity can transform livelihoods, but small rural businesses need more than just electricity, they need to know how to capitalise on the opportunities that energy access can bring. It is this knowhow that is the real driver of economic growth and social change in poor rural regions.
Over the last 2 years we have helped 300 businesses in rural Tanzania – agro-processors, wood mills, carpenters, retailers and other micro enterprises – to understand how they could flourish by using the available power and expand into new markets or industries. Our team always meet these entrepreneurs where they are, tailoring support and guidance to the circumstances of each individual business.
Following an economic and value chain analysis to ascertain which products and services were in demand locally, we undertook needs assessments of each business to identify gaps in areas such as skills, technical equipment, and finance. Once we had the full picture, we helped the entrepreneurs develop their own business plans and we introduced them to reliable suppliers of electrical appliances such as fridges, juice blenders, hair dryers, ice making machines, food fryers and printers. We also introduced them to local financing institutions who could lend them the capital required to invest in such tools.
We provided technical training to ensure the correct installation, handling and operation of all equipment and appliances. We helped them develop marketing and sales strategies and we strengthened their bookkeeping and customer service skills.
After two years, many of these businesses are thriving. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the people whose lives and livelihoods have been transformed:
Khalfan and Kizase are shop owners in the village of Kidomole on the coastal plain of Tanzania. After connecting the shop to electricity, Kizase bought a refrigerator and started selling chilled drinks. The huge local demand for chilled drinks has significantly boosted her profits. Khalfan has since set up a welding workshop which is doing so well that he has hired more staff to help meet the demand for his services.
Soud started a small-scale milling business when the village Hondogo, Western Tanzania, was connected to electricity. The 52-year-old now buys corn from local farmers, grinds and packages it. He has been selling fine flour locally but he’s now aiming to increase his income by selling greater quantities in larger markets in the capital city of Dar Es Salaam.
Peter is retired teacher from Hondogo and is now running a small shop that he has connected to the power supply. He has purchased two refrigerators which he uses to sell chilled soft drinks, a particularly profitable line of produce. He also boosts his income by offering mobile phone charging services to his fellow villagers.
Amina owns a small retail shop in Korogwe, near the coast of Tanzania. When she learned of the potential of using electricity to enhance her income, she took out a loan to purchase an electric mill and set up a milling business. Her business has gone from strength to strength as she able to mill greater quantities of maize: she has now built a warehouse where she stores the maize that she buys from local farmers before processing and packaging it.
Hamza owns a small butcher shop in Korogwe. He is now connected to electricity and has bought a freezer to store and preserve his meat products. Now better able to cut down on waste, Hamza has seen an improvement in the bottom line of his business.
I hope you will be as inspired as we are by these powerful stories.
Mata dispensary is a small clinic near the town of Taveta in southern Kenya. Scattered across villages in the surrounding countryside, the local population of approximately 5000 people are reliant on its medical facilities which include a laboratory, a pharmacy, consultation rooms and a maternity ward.
Like many other rural clinics, Mata dispensary long had to contend with power outages, some lasting up to several days, because their grid connection was so erratic. Service provision at the clinic was often severely affected as a result, making it difficult to properly attend to emergency cases or deliver babies safely without electricity for lighting and equipment. On the maternity ward, nurses had to tend to mothers in labour using flashlights and phone torches and were unable to power life-saving machines such the oxygen system or heart-rate monitors in case of complications. Nursing officer Timothy Munuve, who has worked at the Meta Dispensary for three years says, “The lack of power causes a direct threat to the lives of mothers and their babies. It was always distressing for mothers to give birth when the power went out.”
Patients were put further at risk as clinic staff could not adequately sterilise the equipment. Non-emergency healthcare suffered too: cold storage for vaccines and reagents is crucial as vaccines usually spoil quicky without adequate refrigeration. Moreover, the outages left the clinical staff unable to access digital patient records, compromising diagnosis and treatment.
Whilst there is a better-equipped hospital twenty kilometres away in Taveta, it is an arduous journey for poor and sick patients, especially when the dirt road into town becomes impassable during rainy season. The delay in diagnosis and treatment can also worsen the prognosis and have fatal consequences for some patients.
Recently we helped the Mata dispensary get access to solar power. Consistent power supply has transformed the quality of care the clinical staff are able to provide, as Timothy Munuve explains, relating the story of a patient who turned up at the clinic one day with body aches and a severe headache.
“Thirty year-old Jackline arrived at the clinic in a very weak condition, feeling too sick to report to work. I immediately took blood and stool samples to be analysed by the laboratory technician using an electric centrifuge and microscope. The results were available within fifteen minutes.”
Jackline was diagnosed with a digestive tract bacterial infection called H. Pylori which can cause stomach ulcers. The swiftness of the diagnosis in turn improved her treatment outcome: given a diet plan and two weeks of medication, Jackline quickly recovered.
A well-equipped and fully operational laboratory is also essential, as Mata’s staff conduct an average of 30 lab tests a day, with patients usually tested for more than one ailment in course of diagnosis. Laboratory testing is at the heart of treatment and getting swift and accurate results is particularly important in a region like southern Kenya where diseases such as malaria and brucellosis, caused by consumption of raw meat and unpasteurised milk, are so prevalent. Both diseases can be easily detected through a blood test, but samples need to be passed through an electric centrifuge, a dry heat steriliser and then an electric microscope.
Duncan Mwadime, the clinical officer at Mata dispensary says, “Solar power has not only allowed our clinic to improve diagnosis and treatment, it has enabled us to do more preventative work to stop the spread of common infectious diseases. The store of vaccines in our fridges allows us to provide enhanced vaccination against measles, BCG, rota virus, polio, pneumococcal and yellow fever. Our staff are thrilled that we can now play a greater part in improving the overall health of our community.”
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