Posted on 28 August 2019
Baraka Issa (28), a father of one, became unemployed when the government banished him and other villagers in Miyuyu from cultivating in the valley that they were using. The order came about as a measure to control threats to the only water sources and the forest adjacent to the village from human activities.
Baraka narrates how this ban sort of became a blessing in disguise by how it changed his life
‘’I have become a trained solar engineer and the first of my kind. I install and maintain solar equipment in my Village. My first days of work, were very troubling as I had self-doubt and I was afraid I will not manage to do the work and perfect it. I was newly trained and unsupervised! It was not easy but I never gave up. I practiced by myself with small equipment and continued improving. Now that is in the past as of today I have installed solar in 4 houses around the Village. Now I supervise 14 of my peers and together we are installing solar panels in our community also mobilizing the use of improved cooking stoves (ICS)’.
One of the things our community now appreciate most about what WWF is doing through the Sida Leading the Change Programme is having local experts. Not only to install the solar but also to provide education, services and consultation on solar energy. At first, people will just go to town to buy the panels and batteries come back and do the installation. A few months later they will begin to complain the system is not working and generally conclude it is unsustainable. This somehow discouraged others from using solar power.
When we began working a few households that had solar were at the point of giving up on solar energy. Claiming it is expensive to maintain as it required constant services. And, since we are off grid, they would have resort back to kerosene lanterns. We had to put in extra work to convince them it’s the best solution for our health, economy and environment.
I remember I told my first client to purchase a charger controller, he was hesitant. He asked, why should I get one while many solar systems here operate without one! I had to explain the importance of a charger controller and reminded him his friend solar is always failing because it lacks proper systems. He became our ambassador to date! That how our work is we mostly educate and reeducate our people on solar energy.
The knowledge gap that existed, from the point of purchase to care/services, perpetuate this vicious circle of solar underuse. But with us present people are looking at solar energy differently because they consult us to get accurate information and services. We have helped increased the use of solar in our village, and it is so nice to see solar power lighting up the village at night
Our community is small with seasonal income given our geographical location it will take us years to receive electrified. Therefore, we understand the sun is our most reliable source of clean and affordable energy. I did my homework in very poor lighting, I hope my daughter will do hers in clean and reliable lighting.
With my peers we have successfully lightened the village shopping center where we have installed four panels on the streetlights and four others on our soon-to-open barbershop. Access to lighting creates safer communities: businesses can stay open until late at night and community members experience enhanced safety as they are able to move freely at night. We are proud to make our village a model village in the Ruvuma Land Scape.
My message is never given up on youth! Youth participation increases the relevance, acceptability and attractiveness of any development programme. Our future is now with the right skills we will have the tools to overcome poverty and help our community manage natural resources.’’
Sida Leading the Change is simultaneously bringing sustaianable lighting energy to rural communities, and empowering youth in those communities through education and training.