GPE hands over 71 solar home systems for Donkerboss and Sonneblom community

Excitement and smiles greeted the communities of Donkerboss and Sonneblom as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Green People’s Energy project handed over 71 solar home systems to members of the community.

The joyous occasion was witnessed by several guests, including the Governor of the Omaheke region, Pijoo Nganate, Wenzel Kavaka, the Councillor for the Ojtombinde Constituency and Simon Inauen, the head of the GPE project.

Donkerboss is situated approximately 218km from Gobabis, the regional capital of the Omaheke region. It is inhabited by the San community, a highly marginalised group in the country, with relatively poor access to services such as electricity, health, education, and employment opportunities. The San also experience some of the lowest nutrition levels in Namibia despite their middle-income status.

Seventy-one homes received 350 watt solar home systems, which comprised a solar panel mounted on a fixed pedestal, three energy-efficient lights, two power outlets for charging mobile devices and listening to radio, a battery, and an inverter.

To safeguard them and keep them off the ground, the systems were mounted on a specially designed platform.

A solar-powered energy system was installed at the community pre-school to power two LED tubes, two floodlights, three computers, a phone charger, a radio, a projector, and to allow for the provision of additional loads up to 1000W.

Fifteen three-meter-tall 300W solar streetlights were placed in five sub-villages of Donkerboss and Sonneblom. This was in an effort to reduce attacks from wild animals, such as poisonous snakes and spiders that are prevalent in the area.

Ten women from the San community received a ten-day training in basic solar installation and maintenance to equip them with the knowledge of how to maintain the solar systems and to offer them a skill set that will increase their chances of finding employment.

The solar installations not only enhance communication, quality of education, and cost savings, but also empower approximately 180 individuals. The Donkerboss/Sonneblom community members were grateful to have been considered in this initiative and said they were going to make the best use of the solar systems to their benefit.

Governor Nganate paid tribute to the Donkerboss and Sonneblom community, praising them for embracing cleanliness and for valuing the resources that they have.

The Governor reminded the beneficiaries that their role and responsibility is to sustainably operate and care for the solar systems they had received. He advised them to refrain from selling the solar systems.

Governor Nganate emphasized that the solar systems should be preserved for use by future generations.

Simon Inauen, the head of the GPE project, said the Donkerboss and Sonneblom communities desperately needed the electricity, which prompted the implementation of the project.

He said it was determined that one of the communities’ fundamental need was access to power and light to enhance their livelihood. The project also determined that the communities needed streetlights installed to provide safe night-time movement.

“Now, residents of the community may use the solar-powered home systems to directly light their homes, enabling children to study and learn, as well as to charge small appliances such as solar radios, cell phones, and mini fridges,” said Inauen.

Councilor Wenzel Kavaka urged GIZ to consider investing in the community garden as it would keep the community members occupied and provide them with a source of food. He said the community garden would offer affordable, healthy food options to the community, as well as support environmental conservation measures.

Community gardens also serve as places to preserve cultural traditions and generate economic opportunities. In general, they are essential for fostering social cohesiveness, environmental stewardship, food justice, and health in communities.

Donkerboss and Sonneblom communities, with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, engage in various activities such as small-scale agriculture and income generation through San arts and crafts.  All farming activities mainly depend on solar energy, including the three boreholes accessible to the community.

The Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN), in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, provides support to the community through acquiring, installing and maintaining the boreholes, as well as other solar equipment.

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