Jun 5, 2015

Solar's Unique Advantage: Powering a Remote School in Kenya

Location: Barsaloi, Kenya
Panel welded to 3/4 inch angle iron to prevent theft. The roofs are poor quality corrugated 
iron sheeting--not ideal for supporting additional structures.
I've been email corresponding with Fr. Oliver Noonan, a Catholic priest in Kenya. A friend of mine put me in contact with him because she recognized that we were both nerds. He works with Shepherds School Lochekut Supat, a missionary school located near Barsaloi. This is a very remote area as you can see from the map below. 

In 2012, the school installed solar panels to power two classrooms and the headmasters office. It costed $1,679 US and the panels were installed by a local solar installer, Jimmy Owaji. I wonder how busy Jimmy is these days.

Battery unit (Sundaya) attached to the wall, 
battery charger controller, and inverter
Fr. Noonan sent me some additional information on the project: 
"As part of the ongoing training on skills of conflict theory in Samburu, the Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) supports these children going to school by providing solar panels in regions affected by inter-ethnic conflicts. The Shepherds School Lochekut Supat is one of the beneficiaries of the solar panel project that promotes sufficient lighting in schools. In the evening, having completed their activities for the day, the children come to school and learn the art of reading and writing. With the help of solar as opposed to kerosene lamps extremely unhealthy for the children, solar provides sufficient lighting for students to study in the evening. A bright future awaits for these students and the sky is the limit."

You've probably heard a lot of feel good stories about solar projects in rural Africa. What intrigues me about the work of SCCRR is the emphasis that access to electricity can reduce violent conflict. If you'd like to learn more about SCCRR, follow them at @Shalom_Center.