For the past 27 years, Tenesol, a solar power provider operating world-wide, has pioneered the use of solar technology to produce electricity and safe drinking water at remote locations. The company has installed more than 4,000 solar water pumping systems and 5,000 rural electrification systems in isolated communities across the world. In June 2011, Tenesol embarked on its latest project, a major new mission to fight drought in rural Madagascar – which the company has agreed to take on for free.
Seventy percent of Madagascar’s 18 million inhabitants have no access to clean drinking water, particularly in rural areas. Tenesol has been in Madagascar for 14 years. In partnership with the ASA homeless association, they co-founded the Solar Mission Project in 2010. Tenesol offered to install a water pumping system for free in five villages in the Ampasimpotsy district, east of the capital Antananarivo.
For the Solar Mission Project, Tenesol began by equipping Ampasimpotsy village with a solar water pumping system. The system pumps fresh drinking water up to the surface from depths of 40 metres. Powering the system are three 135 Wp photovoltaic modules from Tenesol, which can together deliver around 5,000 litres [ of clean drinking water per day. The water can be used immediately or stored for consumption later.
“Until now the only option for the community was to get water from the rice fields, water that is unsafe to drink and has major health implications,” says Vololona Razafindrainibe of ASA Madagascar: “These systems change all that and put life back into our communities.”
Each of the five systems being installed takes one week to build. The pro bono work is being carried out by volunteers from Tenesol who are using their own holiday to complete the project.
Before installing the water pumping systems, Tenesol previously equipped each of the five villages in the Solar Mission Project with a rural electrification system. With the new system, these isolated communities are being provided with electricity for the first time. The electricity is mostly used to power lights and refrigerators (especially in hospitals). “Before solar energy was installed here, we used oil lamps and torches to work with,” says Dr Nathalie, chief medical officer at the local dispensary. “Now, when a patient comes in at night for treatment, having light makes our job much easier. It’s like working in a small town rather than in the bush.”
Simple maintenance is crucial to ensuring that a solar system operates at its peak performance and efficiency. Tenesol provides training on the maintenance and basic repair of the system to the villagers. This gives the community a sense of ownership and improves their overall independence and self-sufficiency.