21 Oct THE ENERGY NOMADS
The original definition of the word ‘nomad’ is,’ communities that travels from one place to another, over long distances in search of fresh pasture for their animals’. Over the years, this word has expanded based on various contexts hence the creation of words like digital nomads and e-nomads. The key connection between all these new terms and the original, is the fact that there is an identified need and a goal to satisfy that need. The need is only satisfied by traveling over long distances. Africa is not just a home for the original nomadic communities. It is also a home for the Energy nomads; communities and individuals who must travel over long distances in search of sources of energy in order to fulfill everyday needs due to neglect and low initiatives towards rural electrification in Africa. It could be for lighting, cooking, healthcare, education or for powering communication devices. This is a story about the energy nomads of Makueni County.
Tutini Dispensary is located in a quiet town called Tutini, Makueni County, Kenya. Tutini’s population is quite small and it is far away from the urban town, Emali. This town has long suffered from the unreliable grid which has equally affected the healthcare systems and services. Its only functional dispensary, Tutini Dispensary once had a lack of medical equipment until Philips provided modern technological equipment in an effort to improve the state of primary healthcare in rural areas. DREAM then stepped in to provide a reliable solar power system to power up these medical equipment. The availability of energy paved way for the upgrade of medical equipment which in turn boosted primary healthcare. In addition to this, the dispensary has been able to acquire a computer, printer and other devices, besides the provided medical equipment. This has made their everyday operations smooth(and for efficient data storage). Before the provision of renewable energy, the dispensary would be forced to survive without electricity whenever there was a fault in the grid. A nurse told us that they once survived 3 months without electricity. During this time, nurses had to travel for more than 5km to Emali, just to charge their phones whenever there was a blackout. Phones are very important when it comes to responding to emergencies. They would also refer patients to the Emali Hospital, which experiences less blackouts ( imagine travelling to another town in order to acquire basic healthcare). The residents had to find ways to charge their various devices. Eight months after the installation, the nurses have been able to attend to patients efficiently. In addition to this, they have opened up the hospital to the community so that the residents can power up their devices from a closer location whenever there is a blackout.
In Matiku Town, Makueni, Kenya, a little girl by the name Kamene is in class. She knows that at 4:00pm, after school, she must run back home to load the family donkey with jerrycans then go to the water station. The line at the water station is normally very long, especially from 4:00pm. Unfortunately, the water station closes very early, leaving out all the unfilled jerrycans until the following morning when it is opened. The water station is just next to Matiku hospital, where DREAM EP Global Energy is installing a solar power solution of 3.3KW Peak with 28KW/h storage to power up the newly acquired high-performance medical equipment in an effort to boost primary healthcare in the town. A lab was also built. 70W LED floodlights were installed outside the hospital and an auto-timer set at 6:00am(off) and 6:00pm(on). The floodlights will allow for extended opening hours for the power station as it provides a sense of security. The residents will be able to fetch enough water to cater for their everyday needs as compared to spending a night without. We also believe that the hospital will be able to efficiently respond to medical emergencies at night and also serve the residents to full satisfaction. We hope for a healthy community, powered by DREAM EP Global Energy, Kenya.
Emali Hospital is based in Emali town. Emali town is more developed than Matiku and Tutini. This means that Emali hospital is more advantaged to experience very little power outages. However, they, still required energy saving bulbs and floodlights for security. All their old filament tubes were replaced with state-of-the art, energy saving fluorescent tubes from Philips and since the hospital is larger, four 70W floodlights were installed for security.
Reliable energy supply should be appreciated as a foundation for development in the healthcare sector. When this is achieved, a lot can be done to boost healthcare services in Kenya.