Light up a village! Solar power spreads across West Africa

Kumpo, #BlogGambia, Light up a village

“The Gambia Experience took us from the darkness and brought us to the light.”
Mariama Manga

I recently shared with you the wonderful welcome we received in the village of Kanuma in my tongue-in-cheek post On the Trail of the mythical Kumpo of Kanuma. This was a great experience for all of us, a real treat, but the main reason we visited this remote West African village was not for the Kumpo, it was to see first hand the recently installed solar-powered lights and to meet the people these lights were benefiting.

In The Gambia the electricity network does not, as yet, go very far inland. The sun rises at around 7am and sets about 7pm throughout the year, so people often have to work or study by candlelight. Not only is this a fire risk but it causes eye strain and can cause respiratory problems.

Kanuma village

The mud brick homes, with corrugated iron roofs, in Kanuma

But there is a movement, not only in The Gambia but also in nearby Guinea-Bissau, that is spreading village by village, solar-powered light by light, that has recently reached Kanuma.

 

Solar power in africa, ComAfrique InteliZone, Solar powered torch, #BlogGambia, Light up a village

Solar-powered torch charging in the sunlight

The Gambia Experience (the sponsors of #BlogGambia) have been providing holidays to The Gambia for 25 years and to celebrate they gave away £25,000 worth of flight seats and £25,000 in donations, to charitable organisations working in The Gambia. The ComAfrique InteliZon Initiative (CII for short) received funds to light up the village of Kanuma which, by coincidence, is the 25th village in The Gambia to benefit from this scheme.

As with all ‘Light up a village’ projects, rather than simply giving the villagers the solar-powered torches every household using a solar-powered light pays a small fee each day which is far less than the cost of the candles that they were previously using. The money raised will be used to buy new lights for the homes in the village that have not yet received them and to replace the original lamps when they eventually stop working, ensuring the sustainability of the project. The remaining funds will be used to aid the village in whatever way their committee chooses.

Solar power in Africa, Light up a village, Kanuma, #BlogGambia, Solar power

The village Alkalo (head man) shows of a solar panel

I would like to thank the people of Kanuma  for the wonderful, warm welcome we received in their village. I am sure this will be a day that none of us will ever forget.

#BLogGambia, Gambian portrait, Kanuma

Kanuma boys_tonemapped

IMG_0085_tonemapped

Kanuma boys1_tonemapped

Worth noting that the peace sign can be made with the palm facing towards you many countries, as in this case, but if you are visiting the UK remember to only use it with your palm facing away from you.

Kanuma baby2_tonemapped

Kanuma girl_tonemapped

While most of the children loved having their photos taken some were a little less certain.

Kanuma girl1_tonemapped

Mother and baby

Kanuma baby_tonemapped

The CII are asking companies to sponsor a village as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility so if you work for a company that you think might like to sponsor a village or if you would like to sponsor, as an individual, one of the additional lights needed in Kanuma you can get in touch with me at sdf@gambia.co.uk to find out more.

For a more in depth look at how this initiative started and how it is run, read Tom’s excellent post on the Bald Hiker.

More about community projects helping the people of The Gambia coming soon!

Although I have worked for The Gambia Experience, the sponsor of this trip, since 2005, I will always give you a completely honest opinion throughout my #BlogGambia posts, just as I would any other sponsored trip or review. My only bias, which I hope you will forgive me for, stems from my having fallen in love with The Gambia many years ago.

19 thoughts on “Light up a village! Solar power spreads across West Africa

  1. Derek Freal
    Twitter:

    Ok, have to ask: why should I not flash the peace sign with my palm facing towards me in the UK? What does that mean? I know, not exactly focusing on the core subject matter but nonetheless that one tidbit did strike me as interesting :)

    Otherwise it’s always great to hear about uplifting and sustainable programs such as this. These are the types of things I’d like to do when I visit Africa, not go big game hunting or some of that other touristy stuff. It’s great to help out and in exchange you are rewarded with a positive, memorable experience…win-win!
    Derek Freal recently posted..4 Weeks to Prepare for a 4-Year RTW Adventure. Oh crap.My Profile

    Reply
  2. Carol Allen

    Your Gambia pictures really capture the joy, colour and culture of the people and place..

    Reply
  3. Pingback: The ‘Light up a village’ project and the Kumpo of Kanuma

  4. Ram Mohan
    Twitter:

    Kathryn..nice pictures and well written. Thanks. Your readers could learn more about our initiative at http://www.cii.gm or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ciinitiative or could mail us too at rammohan@cii.gm. We thank you and everyone at The Gambia Experience for sponsoring the village of Kanuma ( our 25th village in The Gambia). Thank you and your team of bloggers for taking time to understand how our initiative works and benefits rural economies.
    Ram

    Reply

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