Advancing Girl Power with Wind Power

Year: 2012
Country: Kenya

The Bishop Abiero Girls’ Secondary School is located in a rural area of Kenya where there is no running water and limited electricity provided by small bank of solar panels. The school population is experiencing rapid growth, which is taxing its facilities. Currently, the Kenya Power and Light Company (KPL) provides electrical service to the nearby village of Magwar, approximately 3 kilometers from the school, but there are no plans by KPL to extend service to the school. Located near Lake Victoria, the school is a good candidate for wind power to provide electricity.

This project will connect the school, their local Peace Corps Volunteer and AccessEnergy, a local non-profit based in Kisimu, about 30 kilometers from the school, which has extensive experience installing wind turbines in the region. The new wind turbine will provide reliable electricity at the school so the girls can study at night and utilize their computer laboratory, and it will generate a surplus of energy that can be sold to surrounding homes and businesses to cover many of the girls’ education fees, which are often too big of a burden for families in the area. The turbine will also allow the school to pump water from a nearby borehole to the various school buildings, cutting down on the girls’ daily task of collecting and transporting water. Finally, the project will incorporate engineering and business education classes for the girls to understand the benefit of wind technology for their school, community and the environment.

 

Project Update:

The project was completed within three months from the time funding was awarded, an indication of the local momentum that built quickly in support of this project. The increased electricity at the school allows the girls to study at night and powers the school’s computer laboratory. In addition, the turbine generates a surplus of energy that is sold to surrounding homes and businesses to cover school fees for girls who previously could not afford them. Rather than pumping water from a nearby borehole, school leaders elected to install a rainwater catchment system at the school, which is up and running well. Engineering and business education classes have been introduced to teach the girls about the benefits of wind technology for the school, the community and the environment, placing the students at the center of the sustainable use and maintenance of the school’s new technology. Finally, thanks to its successful implementation of this project, the school was recognized by the Kenyan Ministry of Education and now receives increased funding.

This project also caught the attention of some of World Connect’s youngest constituents who participate in the organization’s Kids Connect program, which promotes global citizenship and global service. At The Spence School in New York City, the International Issues Club raised hundreds of dollars for this project by shutting off the electricity in their school for a day and selling glow in the dark bracelets, raising awareness among their peers about communities in the developing world that struggle without electricity.

 

Testimonials

“The local people and the energy company got their tasks accomplished at a pace that we (and they) had never experienced before. The whole community was very excited about the prospect of round the clock lights. Wiring was done quickly in all of the classrooms, offices and dormitories. Security lights were installed outside the buildings. When the wind turbine was erected 50 feet in the air, the whole community came to watch and to cheer on the workers…The students have written to us about how their lives have improved with the addition of the wind turbine and solar panels. They feel more secure with the addition of the security lights, they can study until late in the evening and have light to do their morning chores. The physics and engineering of how the turbine and solar panels function have even been incorporated into the science curriculum at the school.” – Anne, Peace Corps Volunteer