Water, Health and Environmental Protection
IN 2010 and 2011, Africa!Ignitepiloted a project; ‘Using the power of the sun to improve rural health and livelihoods,’ which was funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and was implemented in partnership with the University of KZN’s Department of Public Health, the CSIR and Lemnis Lighting. The project introduced solar disinfection of water (SODIS) and solar lights into rural households in KwaHlabisa and Mtubatuba municipalities in the north of KwaZulu-Natal; with youths monitoring, supporting and documenting the introduction.
The project showed that SODIS - a World Health Organisation-recommended method through which 95% of bacteria are destroyed if water is put in clear containers in direct sunlight for six hours reduces the levels of eColi and other bacteria from levels that are far above World Health Organisation; recommended levels that are close to zero, provided that the water is clear enough to let through the rays of the sun. Alum or another clarifying agent needs to be used if the water is too turbid. The research also showed that there is a major need for solar lights in rural areas. Twelve terminal managers of the international bulk liquids storage company, VOPAK, participated in this project on a voluntary basis as part of a leadership development project.
They extended the project to schools by installing gutters and tanks to harvest rain water. The VOPAK team were so inspired by their participation that they agreed to fund a continuation of the project, to ensure continuity of the experience that was gained and the connections that were made. The Netherlands-funded project also enabled Africa!Igniteto create opportunities for youths and adults to market and sell solar bulbs into communities as ‘rural entrepreneurs.’ This has led to the creation of a network of rural entrepreneurs who are working with Reach Rural to sell solar bulbs into rural communities in Umkhanyakude; north of the province.
Drawing on our experience, tools and existing partnerships;Africa!Ignite intends to continue promoting access to and safe use of clean water, sanitation and use of renewable energies in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal that are beyond the power grid and where a lack of access to clean drinking water causes childhood illness and mortality, and affects quality of life. Use of recycled materials is also a major focus of our craft work, and through our partnership with the Earth Organisation and our ‘WOWZULU Green Rhino Range’ we intend to focus increasingly on products using waste.