Electrification far off the national grid
From the beginning, the Maasai Stoves & Solar Project has integrated electrification on a home-by-home basis. We continue this approach on a significant scale.
Since 2014 we have also brought shared electrification through micro-grids. The micro-grids supply power to all the homes and corrals of Maasai family settlements, or bomas.
View a short video by Morgana Wingard for USAID describing the Maasai Stoves & Solar electrification work.
View a video featuring women of the ICSEE electrification team
(Click “picture in picture” in the screen for a larger view)
Our approach to micro-grid electrification
A typical Maasai boma has twelve dwellings and several corrals for cows, goats, and sheep. Each wife of the boma’s leaders lives in a separate home, together with her children. As part of our policy, for a boma to qualify for the electrification, our clean and efficient stoves must be installed first, wherever women cook.
Depending on the boma size, the boma owners provide one or two sites for mounting the solar panels and the electrical equipment. We also install the batteries and and controlling electronics and house shared appliances in those buildings.
The wiring to homes and corrals is placed underground in protective plastic pipes. We include corral lighting to help keep hyenas away from the livestock.
Community impact of shared electrification
The women of the Project thrive on new skills and leadership opportunities. Throughout the district, innovation and the advancement of new ideas is now a natural part of their outlook and culture. This is spreading to the men, who are especially interested in the solar side of ICSEE(T) actions.
The people are very enthusiastic about the system coming to them. They want to participate in its installation. Men, women, and children work together, unusual for the Maasai. They are digging trenches and burying wire together. There are many people eager to receive training for roles in grid engineering, installation, and troubleshooting.
One group especially excited about training opportunities are the Maasai girls.Many would have preferred to stay in school, but instead they have returned to the bomas to fulfill their arranged marriages. For them, any role for which they can continue to use their minds in new ways is truly a blessing.
Micro-grid solar electrification launch history
On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, the Commissioner of Arusha Region, Mr. Daudi Felix Ntibenda, presided at an official announcement and launch of our micro-grid electrification research at the Lobulu boma in the village of Esilalei.
The micro-grid development was introduced with first design and engineering work supported under the PEER program of USAID and the US National Academy of Sciences. PEER stands for Partnerships for the Enhancement of Engagement of Research. Funds were provided by Power Africa -USAID directly to the ICSEE(Tanzania) our Tanzanian non-profit corporation.
Replacing the darkness with light
For the eradication of poverty one of the most significant steps is to have a light switch and plenty of power every night, replacing the darkness and the need for open fires to see. Once the Maasai see what nights can be like with micro-grid electrification the demand spreads.
We seek funds from private and government sources to scale up this work. We thank the USAID for enabling the ten-boma pilot project electrification research. And we express our gratitude to the Putnam Foundation of New Hampshire for enabling us to keep the micro-grid work going as we pursue larger-scale funding.
Thanks to Putnam, we recently held a solar training course for twenty-two Maasai women’s leaders and staff. The training covered principles of solar electric energy and installation procedures, The newly-trained team has already installed grids in over 20 bomas. Each installation took the team only one day of hard work.
A clear direction – will you help?
The direction is clear. It is important to create earning opportunities for all. The people are ready to learn and master exciting new technologies once they see how valuable they are for their families and communities. Do you want to be part of it? We welcome your input and support.