Namibia: Rural Communities Benefit From Solar Power

The Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) recently embarked on an evaluation of its adult community group programme by visiting several participants at their homesteads in Rehoboth, Mariental, Keetmanshoop, Bethanie and Maltahöhe.

Viktoria Keding, director of NaDEET, a Polytechnic in-service training student, Emilia Sende, and an intern from the United States, Jon Maravelias, conducted surveys and interviews to determine the success of implementing a sustainable lifestyle amongst rural communities in the south, through using hands-on training with alternative cooking technologies.

In Maltahöhe, the group met with community organiser and shop-owner, Veronika Katjikuru. Katjikuru explained that she now saves money and energy by using her solar cooker.

"I save N$80 on my electric bill every month because I am not using electricity to cook my food any more," she said.

This sentiment was shared throughout the community, as many said that they are greatful to not have to travel several kilometres a day to collect firewood or even spend money to buy it.

"As we travelled on to the farming community of Bethanie, we met several community members at the homestead of Chief August Fredericks and his wife, Anna. The NaDEET participants from Bethanie were our most "financially challenged", since the majority were unemployed and did not even have gas or electricity to use. As such, the solar cookers and solar ovens were very useful to a population subject to scarce resources and frequent power outages," Maravelias said.

The participants surveyed, reported a 67% daily-use of parabolic solar cookers. The participants who reported that they use their gas stove rarely or never, said they relied on their parabolic solar cooker 79% of the time. Those that reported that they use their electric stove rarely or never, reported that they use their solar energy cooker 63% of the time and those that no longer use an open fire or only for traditional-use, rely on their solar cookers 68% of the time.

In 2010, NaDEET launched its pilot programme through which rural communities are given practical training in alternative cooking technology, water and energy saving techniques, conducting an environmental audit and learning the theory behind climate change.