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Lighting Homes with Africa Initiative for Rural Development

In Ndoroto village, Naivasha east lives Ann Wangui, a mother of seven children. Two of her  children are enrolled in secondary school whilst three are in primary school, all within the same location.

While education is vital, the process comes with challenges as many homes and schools lack access to electricity. Ann herself lives in a  mud thatched house.

Her husband died in 2010 and culturally, there is high expectation for her to provide for the entire household. “I want the best for my children because I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school” she says.

Enrolled In the Program

Ann is a farmer and is currently enrolled in the government cash transfer program as one of the needy households. She is a member of Atiririri CBO, AiRD’s partner that introduces affordable solar lamps to households as a measure to enable school pupils to do their homework at home and attend to their chores. In the past,  Ann used parafin lamps which was more costly. Sometimes, she and her children had to survive dark nights as long as she could put food on the table.

However now that she has a solar lamp since January, Ann has seen significant improvement in her children’s school performance because she’s able to help them revise their homeworks. One of Ann’s children, Nephat has improved his scores from C+ to B+ and he is now able to help his siblings with revision.

With affordable solar lamps, the village can light their homes and use their energy for things such as charging their mobile phones and powering small radios.

“No labour is needed to fix the solar panel and bulbs, it’s affordability is a big help and we can conveniently pay over an agreed period of time through an agreement between our CBO and AiRD” says a grateful Ann who’s also encouraging her friends in the village to consider using solar lamps.  With solar power’s potential to bring energy, AiRD will continue lighting homes all over the country.

Gender Empowerment and Solar Lighting

At Africa Initiative for Rural Development (AiRD), we believe in gender empowerment and equality not in a sense of just verbally expressing it, but putting that belief into application, into something real.

Together with our implementing partner Technical Community Training Institute (TCTI), we have been teaching a technical course in solar light and electrical installation to both women and men, with women being highly encouraged to participate. TCTI has otherwise been offering technical skills development mainly targeted to the construction sector and which tend to attract only gentlemen, who after graduation are linked to employment opportunities locally and overseas.

Through the solar light and electrical installation course, we are teaching young women and men to be electricians so they can utilize their skills at home and at the community. Our desire is to have women having access to equal opportunities, to learn new skill sets that are commonly associated with men and to find sustainable employment.

Our objective is equally to have women step up and engage actively in addressing issues around climate change, especially in enhancing access to clean energy. Through imparting skills in solar lights development, repairs and maintenance, AiRD seeks to have a pool of women technicians who will reap in this emerging market.

AiRD also seeks to develop a solar pack that is affordable and very user friendly targeting the rural communities. We understand the economies of energy poverty and thus we strive to contribute to the addressing of the challenges associated with the move from traditional energy sources (kerosene) to renewable energy sources (solar lamps).

Solar light and electrical installation trainees are taught practical mathematics, how to use digital multimeters and soldering techniques. The women trainees are very enthusiastic in learning this new skill. We believe that when we equip one young woman with this practical skill, many more will be motivated to learn and will eventually light up the whole village. Who knows, in the near future, we might have solar lamps with mobile phone charging units made by our electricians!

Would you like to learn this interesting skill too? Come visit our AiRD office and inquire more through TCTI in Sarakasi Dome, 2nd floor in Ngara, Nairobi. We are open Mondays to Fridays from 9 AM until 5 PM. Karibuni Sana and we look forward to seeing you here.