The Clean Energy Village Initiative (CEVI) launched in 2014 and piloted in the high priority villages of Fihoni and Miyani, aims to address serious challenges that emerged from a review conducted by WWF in three villages in Kwale County, that revealed that an overwhelming majority (80% depend on paraffin (or a combination of paraffin and firewood) for lighting and firewood as a source of cooking fuel.
These fuels cause indoor air pollution leading to respiratory diseases and eye irritation, do not create a conducive atmosphere for school going children to study in the evenings, and the use of wood fuel has also led to massive deforestation.
As part of the pilot, members of the Fihoni and Miyani villages received solar lighting systems and energy efficient cook stoves were installed in their homes.
Mama Zainab, a recipient of one of the solar lighting systems said:
“I am very happy and grateful for the solar lanterns provided by WWF. This has helped me to save 40 Kenyan shillings everyday which I used to spend buying paraffin for my tin lamp and charging my mobile phone. In addition, my children are now able to study for three hours in the evening…. Before then, they would only study for 1 hour after which they eyes would turn red and itchy due to smoke from the tin lamp.
“This is like real miracle to us, I never imagined this kind of transformation…we are so grateful to WWF…we request others to join and support this cause so that many more households can be transformed.”
Considering the families in these villages are earning on average £1 a day, the need for paraffin or kerosene used up a large proportion of their income. Now that solar provides light in their homes, families are saving up to 40%.
These lamps also have the added benefit of improving school performance, as children (mostly girls) were spending on average 1 houor every day sourcing firewood. One villager, Fatuma Kassim said:
“It was hard for my two kids to study in the evening. We used tin lamps in most cases, but I did not have cash to buy kerosene meaning sometimes they would go for days without evening studies. Now I own three solar lanterns which are enough for my need. My children are performing much better.”
The message from the students themselves is just as positive. Emily Jacob, a pupil in class 7 said:
“I am now able to read and complete my homework. Before the solar lanterns and energy saving cook stoves I never finished my studies. After school, I would go to a nearby forest to gather firewood and when I could study, the kerosene tin lamp smoke was choking – I could barely concentrate.
“Thanks to the lanterns, I improved from 321 marks to 379 in only one year! I am sure to pass my primary examination next year and join a good high school. I would like to study forest conservation at university.”
The newly installed fuel efficient cook stoves require less wood and therefore less time spent sourcing wood and more time for studying. Equally, the new style of stoves emits less smoke meaning that, together with improved lighting in their homes, children are able to study and live in cleaner, healthier environments.
Kengo and Julo are one couple from Mwaguda – one of villages that has recently joined the CEVI – said the stoves are very easy to use and saves a lot of firewood:
“1 headload used to last 3 days. Now it lasts for 9 days.”
The stoves are made from easily found and locally sourced materials such as clay, sand, cement and water.
Now they no longer need to spend their money daily on kerosene, they are able to put their savings towards their six children’s schooling.
Jackson Mulinge, the Village Administrator of Mwaguda village said:
“We need everyone to have a cook stove to reduce the pressure on the forests.”
If you would like to support the clean Energy Village Initiative, and bring solar lighting systems and fuel efficient cook stoves to more families in coastal Kenya, you can donate to this project here.