Protecting the powerless

Bringing Wind/Solar power to Lake Victoria fishing communities

For many living by Lake Victoria, life is hellish. Soil is poor, dry and hard to cultivate. Night fishing is necessary to catch enough to live on, and people rely on lamps powered by dangerous, expensive kerosene. It is common for traders to force women to sleep with them before buying their fish, taking advantage of the fact that the fish will rot if they are not sold immediately. Practices like this have helped to drive HIV levels up to 50% in many communities.

But there is hope. These communities are rich in wind and sunshine, and we are working with local partners to provide communites with wind/solar systems to power them out of poverty.

In Lwanda Rombo, a wind/solar system now provides power for people to refrigerate their catches. This means that their fish keep their value and they can negotiate a fair price for them without having to sell their bodies. It also makes highly efficient, drip-fed irrigation possible, and solar powered lamps provide a cheap clean alternative to fossil fuels.

It is often difficult to persuade people in these communities that the systems will assist them. So, in Lwanda Rombo, transport is offered to people from other, nearby communities.  This allows them to witness the benefits of the village’s central wind/solar hub first hand, providing the most persuasive argument for their usefulness. As Peter Mereri of OSIENALA says, “the eye is a better pupil than the ear.”

In Rasira Beach, another lake community, we asked local women to draw a plan of how they would like to see their village transformed by renewable energy. We will work with them to see that they have the power to make their dream a reality, and see what they now only hear about.

‘The eye is a better pupil than the ear! – Peter Mereri of OSIENELA (Friends of Lake Victoria)

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