Wind powers green living project in Kenya

Wind powers green living project in Kenya

In our series “In Action," the opportunities and benefits of personal wind turbines are shared through customer testimonials and regional case studies. Jane and Robert Jann have been building a model for sustainable living in Awendo, Kenya for several years. Along with food gardens and a home built using low-impact construction techniques, this site includes small-scale wind power to pump drinking water. The couple hopes that the site will serve as a case study for sustainable development and eventually supply UV-purified drinking water for people living in the area. Jane recently corresponded with Southwest Windpower about this project.

SWWP: Tell us about your project in Awendo?

JJ: We started out committed to making an environmentally friendly home. Our aim was to bring some basic and necessary services, like clean drinking water, into the community around us. In the project home, we drilled a 135-meter (440 ft) well. Other activities initiated in the community included education about building with SSBs (stabilized soil blocks - see pictures) to enable the people to build cheap affordable houses and are organizing the planting of vegetables and useful ornamental trees that bear fruit.

SWWP: How do you plan to purify water for the surrounding community?

JJ: The water is pumped directly into a 6,000-liter water tank. Later when we have enough energy to pump through the ultraviolet filter, we will pump water directly into sterile containers and share with the neighbors. Three immediate adjoining homes have expressed a wish to be connected to the water supply. We will consider this option as well when our energy production is ready.

SWWP: How many households or individuals will eventually benefit?

JJ: According to the last census in mid-2007, there would be close to 400-500 people, a mix of adults and children, to be supplied with clean drinking water.

SWWP: Tell us about the wind turbine the site uses.

JJ: We bought the first Whisper 200 in 2006 from a Swiss dealer. We installed it in Kenya that December. The whole wind turbine project was put together by my husband, Robert, who made all the calculations for the installation after we bought the wind turbine. We also bought the guy-wires from Switzerland. The turbine is on a 6 m (20-ft) tower, made from metal bought locally in Kenya.

SWWP: How will this project home serve as an example?

JJ: All the necessary Kenyan government officials within the district know of the project due to its unique position as a first individual effort. It was not intended directly as a model. There are nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) I worked with during my research into the project: KWAHO, Kenya Water for Health Organization, Rongo District; SANA, Sustainable Aid in Africa; Kisumu and Practical Action East Africa, Nairobi Office as well as the Kisumu office. I am currently looking into actively involving either the government or other NGOs with common interests.

SWWP: Do you have plans to take this model elsewhere?

JJ: A project on Lake Victoria will most likely evolve along the same lines as the Awendo project. We wish to make these projects happen, but time and money are key. As long as we have to work jobs to keep the projects going, it means a long, slow process. I make time to go to Kenya twice a year, mid-year for a month or two, and together with Robert for our December holidays. If we find a suitable organization to take over our project in Awendo, we will establish the Lake Victoria site as an owner-occupied lodge/resort incorporating buildings that preserve the environment. We aim to integrate the site with the local fishing community. With wind energy, we are planning again to pump water from a well. Although local residents live near the lake, the water from the lake is not clean enough for drinking unless it is boiled or treated with chemicals. The lodge would use wind, solar and biomass as the only energy sources. I am working on a business plan to present to possible investors. I am looking to establish a place that would allow the guests to get involved in the communal activities during their visits, as well as create employment where currently there is none.

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