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Clean energy project transforming livelihoods in Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria region residents are set to benefit from a European Commission funded project in smart energy solutions that seeks to address rural community’s challenges in the provision of clean energy and safe water.

The Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA) program will be implemented by the WeTu organization in Kisumu, Migori, Siaya and Homa Bay counties.

WeTu is a social enterprise that leverages solar energy to provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy access, safe water, clean mobility, cooling and fishing solutions for the folk surrounding the lake.

Launched in October 2021, SESA project intends to invest over Sh.8.4 million in the next 18 months towards the introduction of innovative solar-powered solutions to improve the living standards of people dwelling in rural areas.

So far, the WeTu organization has established 13 solar-powered water points dubbed ‘WeWater ATMs’ spread across various beaches in the four counties bordering the lake to enhance the provision of safe and clean drinking water to rural households.

According to Charles Ogalo, WeTu Programs Coordinator, the benefits of providing affordable, clean and safe water for drinking and general use for communities include reduced waterborne diseases, and improved learning hours by pupils in school.

“WeTu dispenses water at your convenience in various locations. We leverage solar energy to provide clean and safe water. The water is dispensed by solar powered ATMs giving you access to the product round the clock,” said Ogalo during the unveiling of the water project in Katito town, Nyakach Sub-county on Thursday.

Magdalena Sikorowska, SESA Coordinator while speaking during the launch, underscored the significance of the interventions in transforming livelihoods and at the same time advocated for the upscaling and replicating the efforts to other regions to heighten the process of combating climate change.

The event was presided over by Kisumu County Chief of Staff Kassim Abdalla who hailed the development terming it as a game changer towards the realization of adequate safe water to the vulnerable homes since it would supplement other water projects initiated in the area by various sponsors.

WeTu targets to serve over 50,000 people in its communities with at least 3 metric tonnes per day of safe and affordable drinking water under the realm of Sustainable Development Goal on clean water and sanitation.

Reports show that a large proportion of the communities living around Lake Victoria lack access to safe drinking water and cannot afford electricity due to the high cost of connectivity and still use kerosene lamps that pollute the environment.

“The implementation of the SESA project has the potential to significantly improve energy access, create jobs, and boost productivity for the majority of the Lake Victoria region’s fishing and agriculture communities,” said the Programs Coordinator.

The mega project also seeks to leverage the local entrepreneurs’ innovative skills in sustainable energy solutions to provide products and services like solar lighting, electric motorbikes and solar drying of fish to bolster social and economic development in rural areas.

To augment this, WeTu has established seven solar-powered hubs in different locations along the lake offering modern solar fishing lanterns, e-motorbikes for rental, and solar cooling services for local fresh fish and meat products vendors.

“We expect to lease at least 200 to 300 solar fishing lanterns per day to improve fishing and fishermen’s productivity, thereby improving regional food security,” stated Ogalo.

Through the program, fishermen can lease solar lanterns which are durable, safe and environmentally friendly to work on Lake Victoria during the night.

By Robert Ojwang’

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