Nov. 27, 2019
Sphere Solar | Outreach

Sphere Solar Gears Up For New Project in Rural Kenya

Sphere Solar Energy isn’t just another solar installer. Edwin Wanji started our organization because he believes that solar panels can be a tool to increase community resiliency and help marginalized communities adapt to the realities of climate change.

We’ve put a portion of our yearly revenues to support charitable projects that benefit underserved communities, including solar chargers for a village in Kenya.

Now, we’re asking for your help on our most exciting project to date. We’re aiming to install, free of charge, a solar-powered water pump at a school in a Maasai community in Kenya. The pump will save the school big on yearly fuel and maintenance costs and save lives by ensuring that the school community has reliable access to clean drinking water.

Read to the end of the article to learn how you can support our efforts.

Gas-Powered Technology is a Health Hazard, And Not Just in the Ways You Might Expect

Oloolaimutia Primary School provides transformative educational opportunity to 1,280 students from the Maasai community ages six through fourteen. The school serves a rural community spread across many square miles, so some children travel miles to get their education.

Girls walk through a courtyard at Oloolaimutia Primary School. While educating girls has been historically less common in Maasai communities, Oloolaimutia School is co-educational.
Girls walk through a courtyard at Oloolaimutia Primary School. While educating girls has been historically less common in Maasai communities, Oloolaimutia School is co-educational.

 

It’s clear that Oloolaimutia School, under the leadership of its Principal, Mr. Manyone, is doing great work, but they have one problem: they’re currently spending $1,400 per year on fuel and maintenance for an unreliable gas-powered water pump – a lot of money for a rural community in Kenya. When that generator breaks down, which it does several times per year, the schoolchildren have to gather water and carry it a mile from the closest river until the community can get the parts together to fix it. Mechanical issues can often take upwards of a week to resolve, so they’re stuck doing this for a significant portion of the year.

River water doesn’t just take time away from the kids’ studies, but it’s a significant health risk for the community. Water sanitation and hygiene-related deaths are the second leading cause of childhood death around the world, killing 2,195 children every single day. Drinking, washing, and cooking with unpurified river water puts the community at risk from these illnesses. Continuing to rely on an antiquated, unreliable gas-powered generator for clean water is costing the Oloolaimutia community dearly and creating an avoidable risk for the community.

Oloolaimutia's old, gas-powered generator.
Oloolaimutia’s old, gas-powered generator. This was once a time-saver that improved health outcomes, but by today’s standards, it’s an unreliable and unhealthy money sink!

 

Clean Water is a Human Right – And Solar Can Make It A Reality.

Everyone should have access to the tools for a healthy life, and that’s why the global community considers access to clean water and sanitation to be a human right. That’s why Sphere Solar is working with Principal Manyone and members of the community to get a new, solar-powered water pump for the school. Solar pumps are simpler and more reliable, meaning they’re cheaper and easier to maintain, and ensuring that the school community has reliable access to clean drinking water year-round. Moreover, the new pump would require no fuel, freeing up the vast majority of their water budget to go towards new programs and hiring more teachers.

The system is expected to last for years, and it will operate at much lower costs than the $1,400/year gas-powered version. That means it will deliver substantial savings in addition to improving reliability.

Edwin Wanji with Pere Olerop (right), a talented community organizer that is connecting people to improve the lives of people in his community.
Edwin Wanji with Pere Olerop (right), a talented community organizer and alum of the Oloolaimutia School who has been a major force behind the project.

 

Sphere Solar Founder & Owner Edwin Wanji with Oloolaimutia School Headteacher Parsokonte Mayone
Headteacher Mayone is the key decision-maker at the school, and has been an ideal partner throughout the planning process.

 

The system will include the solar-powered pump, new piping, and additional holding tanks to add to their storage capacity, so they have a steady stream of water even after the sun sets. We want to ensure that they see maximum savings from the new system, so we’re taking the following steps to ensure we can get their system free of charge:

  • Do all of the design, planning, and materials procurement work free-of-charge
  • Bringing the community together to collaboratively install the system (kids won’t do the labor, but they’ll get a chance to learn about how the system works)
  • Raising funds to pay for the cost of the hardware.

We’re trying to raise the necessary funds by the end of January to get the system installed in time for the beginning of the school year. This will allow us to give the kids a chance to learn from the installation process and gain exposure to solar technology, while also minimizing the time they still depend on the old system.

Can you donate? Have another way you can help? Use the form below to indicate your interest and learn how you can contribute!






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