Zululand Community Solar Project

In rural Nongoma, less than 50% of the homesteads have access to electricity. The remaining families meet their energy needs using hydrocarbon (coal, gas, and paraffin) and/or biomass (wood, cow-dung, and crop waste). Inhaling the smoke and fumes produced from burning these fuels has severe consequences to health, whilst the collection of fuel (typically done by women) is incredibly time consuming and often dangerous.

The Zululand Community Solar Project provided solar lighting systems to three deeply rural communities south of Somkhanda Game Reserve. 130 households  received solar lighting kits which can run for up to 16 hours, without the fees and environmental costs that come with coal powered electricity.

The installation included basic training to promote long term sustainability. ACT mentors were on hand to provide assistance in the development of homestead food gardens and water saving techniques when installing the systems. A small refund to the households will also ensure all expired batteries are returned and safely recycled.

Somkhanda is a 22,000 hectare community-owned reserve, situated within a key biodiversity area. Amongst others, the reserve is home to a high density of leopard and white rhino as well as endangered black rhino, wild dog and Jozini cycad species. The communities who live adjacent to the reserve play a vital role in the safeguarding of the area and ACT has signed MOUs with the communities (as well as a third, Madwaleni, community) to safeguard the environment.

Funding for this project was generously provided by EKOenergy and Siemenpuu.

EKOenergy is a not-for-profit eco-label for renewable energy; through their certification, EKOenergy raises money for climate projects worldwide. Because they receive far more applications than they can fund, they have partnered with Siemenpuu Foundation, who directs and provides small scale Finnish development funding to NGOs and civil movements working with environmental issues in the South.

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