Freeplay Energy has long been recognised for providing clean energy products which address the lighting and communications needs of those living off-grid. A significant proportion of our products are in use in Africa, where solar energy in particular is making an increasing contribution to achievements in the fields of education, agriculture, health and community development.
There is still a long way to go, however. And not just with energy access. Almost 1 billion people worldwide –one in eight of the global population – have no regular access to clean, safe water. As a result, they are denied the very basics of life: hydration, sanitation and health.
Indeed, diarrhoea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills approximately 850,000 people every year. Furthermore, it is estimated that women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend an average of 200 million hours per week collecting water – precious time that could be better spent working on income generating jobs, raising families or engaging in community development. Children - most frequently girls - are also heavily involved in this activity, but the heavy loads can often lead to chronic back problems which can have a very negative impact on their lives both now and in the future.
To help address this desperate situation, one of Freeplay Energy’s sister companies has set up a social enterprise called Project Maji. Project Maji works with communities in rural Africa to deploy state-of-the-art solar-powered water plants. The plants run independently of any non-renewable power source and are typically being deployed in areas where there is no access to electricity. They are easily repairable by a local stand-by team, ensuring maximum uptime and every plant has a local “manager” who is supported by a regional service team. In addition to providing further assurance of efficient operations, this also creates some local employment.
With a simple to assemble, plug-and-play design, Project Maji’s solar-powered wells are easily deployable and are rapidly scalable. And the wells are provided to customers on a pay as you go basis. This payment model means that villagers value the water and that it is not abused or wasted. Furthermore, the funds collected are used to provide maintenance and upkeep of the plants, ensuring that Project Maji’s wells remain operational.
Each plant pumps and filters deep-level ground water and the daily capacity is easily adjustable to provide WHO (World Health Organisation)-standard water to communities of up to 10,000 people.
Four plants are already in operation in Ghana – at Atentun, Ansembua, Accra, and – since February 2016 - Adum Dominase (near Takoradi). Which means that up to 40,000 people now have access to clean drinking water for drinking and hygienic purposes and can look forward to a marked reduction in health problems.
Project Maji also integrates an education program into each water plant installation where we teach the local population the importance of personal hygiene. This helps to ensure that people understand and value the clean water provided to them. Most importantly it helps them to lead safer lives.
The potential of Project Maji’s solar-powered wells for improving health and utilities infrastructures in Africa is almost limitless. It is also a great example of meeting a clear and pressing need with a clean and sustainable solution.
Project Maji plans to open more solar wells across West Africa as soon as possible. As more communities in more countries come to benefit, we will be sure to keep you updated.
Organisations interested in supporting this venture can contact Project Maji directly at info@projectMAJI.org