MPs And DEC Members Excited With Progress

Arnold Kadziponye,
Projects Coordinator (MuREA)

MuREA through the Powering Development in Mulanje (PDM) Project organized a field visit for the Mulanje DEC Members and 2 Members of Parliament for the area that MEGA is implementing a Micro Hydro Scheme generating 60 Kilowatts of electricity currently connecting 606 households, 2 schools, 2 churches, a clinic, 2 maize mills and opened business opportunities to over 56 people.

The site visit was organized to offer a chance to DEC members and the MPs to appreciate how community managed min grids are professionally operated through a social enterprise model and learnt how electricity is generated. The Council is in the process of developing its Social Economic Profile (SEP) and there is a thinking that energy can enhance economic development for an area and that’s true with Bondo. Community members have access to clean, affordable and reliable source of energy while the schools have improved grades due to extended hours of study. The clinic’s service delivery has improved so much due to the electricity as they now have a refrigerator to store medicine, a sterilizer, water geyser and other equipment through supported from the Project.

MEGA is the first and still only independent power producer (IPP) licensed by the Malawi Government’s Energy Regulator MERA. It was important that the DEC Members and the MPs for the project area get informed of what is happening in the district.

Figure 1: DEC Members walking towards the powerhouse It was really exciting for the delegates as for others - it was there very first time to get close to a power house and see how electricity is generated and more so as this is happening within their own communities. The MPs expressed gratitude to MEGA and it’s implementing partners (Practical Action, MMCT and MuREA as well as the development partners (donors) i.e. the European Commission, UNDP – GEF, the Scottish Government for financing the project. There are two more power houses under construction which will see the increase in power generated to a total over 200KW and many more people getting connected.

“I have been hearing about power at Bondo and I thought it’s just that very small thing where organizations talk much, yet doing very little, but my visit to Bondo this morning has given me a different picture all together and if these initiatives were to spread all over the country, we wouldn’t have been talking about blackouts. Imagine people from the remotest area getting access to 24/7 supply of electricity. This is amazing”, said Mr. Charles Lomoni who represented the District Commissioner.

The two Members of Parliament (Hon. Naomi Kilekwa and Hon. Bon Kalindo thanked MEGA, MuREA, Practical Action and MMCT for bringing tangible development to Mulanje. Now that people are accessing an uninterrupted source of electricity, their livelihoods have improved. Previously, they used to travel several km just to get their phone charged and be able to communicate with relatives from far, but now they have clean, affordable and reliable energy. Community members are now purchasing electrical appliances like TVs, Fridges and constructing better houses befitting electricity.

Figure 2: GVH Bondo speaking during the handover ceremony of hospital equipment

We took advantage of the MPs and DEC Members to officially handover equipment bought by Mega Ltd to Bondo Health Centre. Speaking on behalf of his subjects, GVH Bondo said he was very glad to have such a project in his area and the case is the same with all community members. Electricity has brought a lot of benefits to the area. Expectant mothers are well taken care of and delivering in a very conducive environment with lighting. Many businesses have emerged and that his people do not need to travel far to watch news on TV as this is now done right in their own homes.

Mr. Ben Friday is the in-charge of the health center. He indicated that with the support of the equipment, referral cases to Mulanje District Hospital have reduced very much. They are now able to treat people right here. The Autoclave Machine, Mobile Lamp, Refrigerator and Water Geyser powered by electricity are making a big difference in the clinic’s daily service delivery.

Figure 3: DEC Members who graced the handover ceremony

“MMCT, MUREA and MEGA have proved that non-state actors can deliver beyond expectation. It’s really amazing to see the people in this remote part of the district living a life befitting a town. When we talk of transforming communities in the NGO circles, these organizations have shown that it is possible to think outside the box and deliver very tangible developmental oriented projects like the issue of electricity here at Bondo” , said the District CSO Chairperson, Twambilire Mwalubunju.

Figure 4: Hon. Bon Kalindo and Hon Naomi Kilekwa

The coming of electricity to Bondo has offered employment opportunities as MEGA employs the local people for a number of different jobs. The PDM project has 4 components which are: Establish a micro hydro scheme (operation and maintenance); Productive Use of Energy; Watershed Management and lastly the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (Case Study). MEGA, MuREA, MMCT and Practical Action manage these components based on their expertise.