With lack of basic social amenities including electricity and pipe borne water, life in Kushako village which is 5 kilometers from Bwari, the federal capital territory, Abuja has always been tough for the residents.
Among other deprivations, the villagers have always had to rely on lanterns for light in the evening while women still cook utilizing traditional methods with attendant health hazards from smoke.
“We use to buy kerosene into our lantern which make us to spend a lot of money and sometimes we will not have money to buy the kerosene which make it difficult for us light our rooms, ” the Head of Chiefs in the village, Bala Luka said.
Kushako, a farming community has about two hundred residents including women and children. Thanks to the sustainable modern energy programme executed by Energy Commission of Nigeria supported by United Nation Developmental Program, (UNDP) residents of the village now have access to facilities they hitherto lacked.
“With this solar energy now, we can charge our phones, our children can read their books with the solar light, provide water for our people and supply water to the fish farm that was built for us by the FADAMA project which will provide employment for the young people in the village” Luka stated.
One of the villagers, Isa Yerima also spoke on the positive impact of the project.
“Our wives and children used to encounter numerous challenges when it comes to living in the village. Before it was very hard for us to get water but now we have a solar energy that power our room and water so things had been made easy for us now and we appreciate the government for doing that for,” he stated.
The Special Adviser to the Director General of Energy Commission of Nigeria, Engineer Okon Ekpeyong explained that the commission embarked on the project to address the challenge rural communities’ face in accessing modern energy services.
He added that the project is in line with the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL) which the commission is implementing to ensure that there is sustainable energy for all.
He gave examples of the rudimentary and inefficiency way of solar drying and cooking with fuel-wood which lead to continuous felling of tress, desert encroachment and soil erosion.
“The amount of diseases associated with the use of solid fuels for cooking and traditional lamp for lighting have been on the increase with resultant deaths especially among women and children,” he said.
The project which is to utilize the renewable energy resources that is available in the village will increase access to clean energy services and enhance the villagers’ awareness of the role improved wood-burning stoves for rural development in the country.
It will also harness resources for electricity generation to meet local demands for water supply and lighting. Other benefits include facilitation of socio-economic development in the village, job creation for the people and to popularize renewable energy technology through solar in the village.
The Director General of Energy Commission of Nigeria, Professor Eli Jidere Bala appreciated the UNDP and the villagers for their absolute commitment to the project and gave more insight on the benefits of the whole project to the community. According to him, the commitment of the commission is to guarantee adequate, sustainable and optimal supply of energy at appropriate cost and in an environmentally responsible manner to the various sectors of the economy by utilizing all viable energy resources in an optimal rate.
“The challenge is to introduce an option that will be affordable and acceptable to the people, and the this project is to provide improved woodstoves and train local potters on the use locally available renewable energy resources to produce clay based improve woodstoves, install solar home systems for lighting and mobile phone charging,” Bala said.
He said part of what was done to open the Kuzakho village to sustainable energy was provision of solar power to a community social and religious centre, as well as converting the diesel-powered motored water bole in the village to Solar-PV powered to increase rural energy access for the income generation, poverty alleviation and improved standard of living and to power.
Engineer Okon Ekpeyong urged the villagers to ensure effective use of the power project for the development of their life and the village and protection of the whole solar system from any form of damage.
Story By: Seye Joseph