For those still unfamiliar with the odd sounding acronym EWSC, it stands for Energy and Water Secure Communities, which is a programme that (of course) focuses on water and energy security, particularly for poor communities. The aim is to achieve improved livelihoods through the lens of energy and water security.
Learning from their Demonstration Sites project in 2010, Project 90 by 2030 decided to embark on a deeper process of engagement with the beneficiary communities. They would like to ensure that there is a deep enough engagement at the start so that energy and water changes made fit actual needs, and continue to be used in the longer-term.
So how do they do this? They have drawn on many research and engagement methodologies and philosophies, including participatory research and asset-based engagement. Using the wisdom out there along with their own insights and collective experience, they are pioneering an approach called Participatory Community Engagement (PCE) with a specific emphasis on the participatory elements that ensure long term uptake of energy & water technology changes.
The model intends to give proper attention to the totality of what it is to be a community member, uncovering needs both apparent and obscure. Any kind of change is a complex matter and when the goal is to improve lives and well-being via technologies, one is wise to approach the whole community as a complex inter-dependent system. They are becoming more and more aware that transformation happens on both sides of the partnership. They set out to assist others, and in so doing, find themselves learning important lessons from those they’ve aimed to help.
Project 90 by 2030 have been working with the Eastern Cape community of Msobomvu since August 2012. This is a rural community of approximately 250 homes. They currently have no access to electricity and very limited access to water – delivered to communal JoJo tanks every few weeks by the local authority. Project 90’s aim is to provide access to low carbon and renewable energy technologies to improve the daily lives of community members and enable them to become self sufficient for their energy and water needs.
They hosted two workshops with the community where they identified a number of potential solutions and the community then decided on the technologies they felt would be most beneficial for them. For the immediate future, they have chosen to focus specifically on cooking and lighting needs.
The first stage of rolling-out the chosen solutions took place at the end of November 2012. Highly efficient cook-stoves and Wonderbags were delivered by Project 90 staff and volunteers and the community participated in the process of introducing these in each household.
An innovative solar home lighting kit (that can also charge mobile phones) has been designed in partnership with Grey Green Engineering, and will be assembled and installed by the villagers themselves in January 2013.