The Foundation funded a pilot project in the King Gray community of Monrovia. With its partners, the pilot project accomplished five objectives between September 2009 and January 2010:
- Provided permanent solar lighting to classrooms at the King Gray Public School.
- Created of a lantern rental program, providing solar lanterns to a select number of students and teachers for at-home study and planning.
- Provided technical training (to create new solar lanterns) to community members.
- Created a new micro-enterprise within the King Gray community.
- Provided general information on the technology to the surrounding communities.
Original Goals of Pilot Project:
- To provide permanent solar lighting intallation on the ceiling and above the chalkboards in at least three classrooms at the King Gray Public School.
- To make lanterns available to at least 20-25 students (at a time) to take home throughout the school week for at-home study.
- To provide at least 16 lanterns for teachers for at-home lesson planning.
Training and micro-enterprise creation
- To train four to five community members/parents/educators on the Taa Bora technology.
- To train one to two students on the Taa Bora technology.
- To create at least one community cooperative or micro-enterprise from among the community members/parents/educators trained in the Taa Bora technology.
Marketing and technical assistance
- Generate two to three radio spots on UMIL Radio Liberia about the pilot program.
- Generate one to two newspaper or online articles about the pilot program.
- Generate a two to three day appearance on the local 'Daily Talk' news board (Monrovia) about the pilot program.
- Generate inquires from 5 - 10 individuals from the general public about the pilot program and/or the Taa Bora technology.
- Connect the King Gray School/Community with at least two viable, local nonprofit organizations that will provide the community with subsequent technical assistance and on-going training in financial and business management.
Liberia, with a population of approximately 3.5 million, is situated on the western Coast of Africa, bordering Sierra Leone, Guinea and C?te d'Ivoire. After more than two decades of instability, two civil wars and an estimated 200,000 lives lost, peace was finally restored in 2003. Most of Liberia's basic physical infrastructure including almost all electric distribution and piped water along with its roads, railways, and communications were destroyed during the civil war. Indicators of human development in Liberia - covering employment, income, health, education, gender equality, and child welfare - are amongst the lowest in the world. Currently the technology used by households and businesses to meet their energy needs is determined by three primary drivers: cost (and ability to pay), quality, and availability.
That being said, there are several sweeping generalizations that can be made about energy creation and usage:
The vast majority of electricity generation in the rural areas comes from privately-owned diesel or gas gen-sets, which are limited to a small number of the wealthiest households and businesses. Most rural dwellers use either batteries (usually poor quality dry cell batteries), fuel-based lighting (vegetal oil, kerosene, candles, or wood fires), or a combination for illumination purposes. Overwhelmingly, energy consumption in Liberia is, across the board, of poor quality and extremely expensive given the technologies and fuels in used. Current statistics:
22% - The number of households (HH) with electricity access (note: this number is only for the rural population centers, and would be much lower for the more sparsely populated areas)
80% - Of the HH with access to electricity, the number who use self-generation (e.g. use gen-sets)
3.2 - Average number of hours of electricity use per day for those with access
.50 - Average monthly spending on electricity
97% - Percentage of HH lacking electricity who use candles, kerosene, dry cell batteries or a combination thereof for lighting (some HH with electricity also employ these as supplements or back-ups)
3% - Percentage of households using solar LED technology
- Average spending on kerosene alone
- Average spending on candles alone
- Average spending on dry cell batteries
Lack of access to electricity, especially in the evenings, limits economic and educational opportunities. By providing lighting to schools not currently supported by a generator or any other light source, classroom hours can be extended into the evening, providing education and training opportunities for youth and young adults (especially young mothers) who would not otherwise be able to take advantage of such opportunities because of their work commitments during the daytime. Though the majority of households currently rely on non-sustainable fuels for energy needs, Liberia is a country rich with indigenous assets such as highly accessible and abundant sources of sun, water, and biomass - resources that can be tapped to produce energy for its own citizenry, while also creating jobs.
Source: Increasing Clean Energy Access in Rural Liberia: Feasibility Analysis and Action Plan for
A Gender-Inclusive, Enterprise-Centered Approach, by: E+Co and Center for Sustainable Energy Technologies (CSET)
Best Practice Information: We are eager to share research, documentation, and contact information (as appropriate) regarding any of the foundation's work in Liberia.