Sunday, 4 August 2013

To the North

The final phase of my trip saw me head north to Mzimba and Mzuzu, about 400km north of Lilongwe. As I headed north on the bus the landscape became much more vegetated, Brachystegia woodland became more abundant and the air temperature dropped noticeably.

Africa's largest plantation on the way to Mzuzu

I was heading north to meet with Sithembile, the Development Officer for the Northern region. We headed out to visit Fwasani CBO (which translates as “be patient”) in the community of Kamiloaza, 45 minutes from Mzimba on roads which seemed to have been made of corrugated iron.

Fwasani have already achieved a lot in their community having already built an orphan training centre, a HIV/AIDS testing and counselling centre and a hostel for out of town students to stay during the week to ensure that everybody has a chance at receiving an education.
Fwasani CBO and the wider community

This community has 2 primary school blocks, several secondary school blocks and a number of administrative/store buildings to support the school. This community places education as key in ensuring a better future for its people.
One of the Secondary school blocks at Kamiloaza
Fruit juice made in the wider community using a solar powered juicing machine and fridge (installation from World Vision)

Sithembile is working with this community to put together an application for a solar PV system at the primary school, the secondary school and at the administrative centre for the CBO. A revenue generating activity is being planned for the CBO admin centre (potentially phone/battery charging) which will ensure that sufficient funds are put aside for maintenance and repairs. Improved cook stoves are also planned for this community.

Sithembile speaking with the Fwasani CBO

During the welcome meeting with the community the Group Village Head, Yesaya, outlined some of the expected benefits from installing the PV system. With the electric lighting, students will feel safer in the school. It is also hoped that students will get better grades, the drop-out rate will be lower and that in the future it may be possible to get a computer for the school. They are also hoping that through lighting being available in the evenings, more people will come to the school buildings in the evenings which may give scope for increased access to education for other groups in the community. It's been interesting that some benefits from the system are named by all communities whilst some benefits are only highlighted by one community. Fwasani is the only community was has stated improved access to education for other groups
Paraffin lamps which were used for lighting in the school blocks (now broken).
Solar powered water pumping station installed by World Vision

Everybody that I met in this community was very enthusiastic and obviously motivated to achieving their goal of bringing electricity to the village. This community has already worked with international donors to develop a solar powered water pumping station which provides clean water for the community which has reduced disease in the community. The community has worked hard to make this scheme a success and I am confident that the same enthusiasm will ensure that the solar PV and cook stove projects will also be a success in this community.

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