Monday, September 19, 2011

Kalalé Solar Electrification Project

This project appears to have wrapped up a few years ago, but the findings are still very relevant for anyone interested in the complex linkages between renewable energy, improved water supply, household income generation, girls' school attendance, and food security in rural Africa.

The results are striking:

"Not only have households, on average, earned $3.82 per week by selling produce over the first 6 months of operation, they have also consumed, on average, 1-2 kg of their own production (including tomatoes, amaranth, okra, and carrots) per week. This represents a substantial improvement in both food and nutrition security for the participants, as this amount is, in almost all cases, more than they reported purchasing and/or producing before project implementation... Additionally, these early data suggest that the payback time of a half-hectare Solar Market Garden is 2-3 years.

Almost all agriculture in rural West Africa is rain-fed; production thus stops during the six-month dry season. During this harsh time, some women and young girls will haul water for several hours each day in an attempt to hand-water small plots of vegetables, as the economic and nutritional payoffs for such labor are enormous. The Solar Market Garden provides an obvious improvement to this traditional method, allowing cultivation of a much larger area with a labor-saving technology that frees women to engage in other activities and girls to attend school. ....Additionally, they report that they spend the time in the gardens engaged in more income generating activities -- including seed replication for sale to other farmers -- than simply hauling water as they had before.

Finally, it is worth noting that the three Solar Market Gardens represent a total deployment of 3kW of photovoltaic (PV) power in non-electrified villages and, compared to diesel generators (the most common energy alternative in rural West Africa), avoid greenhouse gas emissions of 4.592 Metric Tons Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CDE) per year."


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