Electricity from water power
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CTA. 2008. Electricity from water power. Rural Radio Resource Pack 08/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57143
How a Kenyan village gets electricity from running water
Electricity from water power Cue: For most people, particularly in rural areas, kerosene lamps and battery powered torches are essential sources of light once the sun has gone down. But kerosene and batteries have costs, and not only financial ones. Smoke from lamps can cause eye and breathing problems, and batteries can damage the environment if they are disposed of carelessly. And with rising oil prices, just lighting a home is requiring more and more of household income. In Kenya, the NGO Practical Action, also known as ITDG, has been supporting rural communities to set up small-scale water-powered electricity generators. These work by piping water down a steep gradient and onto a turbine, which spins at high speed, generating electric power which is then supplied to homes. The system is known as Pico hydro. In Kathamba village, on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, Eric Kadenge met with Silas Muchira Gachoki, Secretary of the village Pico hydro project. IN: ?The project has got about ? OUT: ? with 5 bulbs and 2 sockets.? DUR?N: 3?20? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Silas Gachoki, hoping that electricity from a small-scale water-powered generator, or Pico hydro, can be supplied to more villagers in Kathamba, Kenya. The interview comes from a resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Gachoki The project has got about 172 members, and the Pico has already served 58 households, which is benefiting around 1,500 people. We start by contributing a small amount of money. After getting the money, we started building a reservoir, that?s a dam. From there we bought pipes, then we have the gradient where we build the powerhouse down here. We get the turbine. Then we had someone who came with all those technologies and after getting power that?s when we started supplying to those few members you have heard. Kadenge What are the benefits of this project to the local people here? Gachoki In fact to mention a few, my neighbour is used to buying paraffin. He has children who are in school. Every week he is using five litres. A litre is costing now 85 shillings. You can see it is more than 400 shillings per week. These dry cells for a radio or a torch are now lasting for one week and it is costing 45 shillings. So per month you are using a lot of money. Whereas whoever is using the power, it is just 80 shillings or 50 shillings the whole month. Kadenge What kind of geographical environment do you need for you to construct this kind of facility? Gachoki For someone to have power, first you need water flowing, and it should be flowing yearly, not seasonally. This is not a seasonal stream; it runs all the year round. You need a gradient area, so people has to work hard to get some money because a project like this needs some money to construct a powerhouse. Cables are now costly. You need pipes, generators, the turbine. We need security. You can see we have used the metal doors. Kadenge And the parts that you have mentioned, the turbines, the motor, is there anything that you need to import or everything is available? Gachoki Now the turbines and whatever are now locally found. Like ours here has never broken down for those years. So mostly you have to grease the machine. So after every three to four months we have to come here and maintain the machine, you grease it, you look whether the turbines are working well. So for sustainability we don?t have a problem. Kadenge What are your plans in the future? Do you intend to extend it? Gachoki Our future plan, as you can see downstream here, we have a big river here, just 800 metres from here, from this powerhouse. We want to extend; we have already bought in fact some materials. We have bought pipes, we have bought blocks, because we have to construct a powerhouse there, which we are going to get about 10 kilowatts there, whereby we will now be able to supply our 172 members with 5 bulbs and 2 sockets. End of track