Often when people think of the desert, they think of a hot, dry climate – a place where water is scarce, and sunshine is plentiful. And indeed, this is what it’s like across much of rural Senegal. As part of our renewable energy projects, however, CREATE! works to utilize solar energy in Senegal to make water as plentiful as the sunshine in rural communities.
How does it work?
CREATE! technicians collaborate with community volunteers and traditional well diggers to restore abandoned wells in our partner villages, by cleaning out debris that has accumulated at the bottom, and by installing a solar-powered pump. Technicians then install an integrated solar array, elevated reservoir, and gravity-fed water irrigation system. CREATE! technicians have years of experience and expertise in installing these types of integrated solar power systems. Following the installation, technicians teach cooperative members how to maintain their solar arrays themselves so that they can continue to run the system on their own without relying on outside help.
The system is well-suited for rural areas and remote locations, and technicians – with the help of community volunteers – are diligent about maintaining the solar panel arrays by cleaning them twice weekly. Dust from the desert collects quickly on the surface and can reduce the effectiveness of the solar panels, so technicians and community members must clean the panels regularly.
Participants seem to agree that it’s all well worth the effort. Maguette Diagne, 45, of Diender, reports that she used to have to treat the water in her village because it was “salty” (contaminated) and would make people sick. “Since the well rehabilitation by CREATE!, the whole village drinks this water now, and many other villages come to get the water, too,” she says. With the energy collected from the desert sun, now Maguette’s village and neighboring communities all have access to abundant, safe drinking water that they never had before.
“I use the water from the well for my family’s consumption, and every day I get 60 liters,” says Maguette. “I use it for watering the community garden site and the trees that I’m growing from the CREATE! tree planting campaign.”
Thanks to the power of the sun, solar energy has made it possible for Maguette, her community, and neighboring villages to have abundant, affordable access to water in the desert. As they say, “L’eau c’est la vie!” Water is life! And what better way to get it in the desert than to utilize the power of the sun.