When inventiveness and determination combine to help a community in Kinshasa

The Kikwit region in DR Congo is a region that Energy Assistance knows well.  Our volunteers have carried out an umpteenth project to electrify a health centre for the Sisters of Mary in Kwango in 2018.  This congregation and that of the Sisters of Saint Andrew have also asked us for two other projects that we hope to carry out soon.

Parallel to these projects, the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Andrew was asking for our help in studying the feasibility of a solar installation to complement grid power for a new Community House in Kinshasa.

In agreement with their architect, it was decided to connect large consumer appliances such as fridges, freezers, pumps, etc. to the public network and to use a solar network for appliances that require less energy or that have to operate 24 hours a day, and for lighting.  We then helped them to size the installation and obtain the best quotations.

Another way, in these times of crisis, to meet the objectives of our association by putting the skills and know-how of our members at the service of humanitarian projects, even at a distance.

Thanks to our volunteer experts in charge of the study of this project : Michel M., Jacques H. and Léon C. (from the companies ORES & ENGIE Solutions)

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Goulouré is a village about 50 km west of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. Energy Assistance has been contacted by the local authorities so that the health center, composed of a dispensary, a maternity ward and 3 functional housing units, can benefit from autonomous electrification.

   

In 2018, on a mission to Sabtoana, South of Ouagadougou, for the electrification of a rehabilitation centre for women suffering from obstetric fistula, one of our teams of volunteers also went to Goulouré to assess the work to be carried out and to complete the information received.

The project was adapted with its new data, including the construction of a fourth home. 6 photovoltaic panels, 24 2V gel batteries and a 5000 VA hybrid converter were planned to supply the dispensary and the maternity ward. It was decided to make the staff housing independent, in order to perpetuate the installations and make the local actors responsible: each housing would be equipped with 2 solar panels, a 12V battery, a regulator and an 800 W converter. The equipment supplier chosen was the firm K&K International in Ouagadougo, with whom Energy Assistance had already carried out several projects.

Our volunteers were ready to go on mission at the beginning of 2020. Unfortunately, security problems in Burkina Faso followed by the coronavirus crisis prevented our volunteers from going to the site to install the equipment. As the equipment had been ordered and a deposit paid, it was decided, exceptionally, to entrust the installation to K&K International staff, remotely supervised by the project manager. This was done to the satisfaction of the beneficiary and will be checked by EA during the next mission of our volunteers to Burkina Faso, which we hope to see soon.

Thanks to Michel M. for the good follow-up of this project.

 

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As travel are limited by the Covid-19 crisis, Energy Assistance carried out a new mission in Brussels.

The house Reine Marie-Henriette, in Brussels, also known as “La Flèche”, welcomes and helps children from families in great difficulties.

A team of 4 volunteers, assisted by our General Manager, realized a secure lighting in the outside areas such as the playgrounds, the garden, the patio, etc. The system implemented allows lighting to vary according to the presence or absence of children, thus reducing light pollution and saving energy.

This transition from shadow to light took place under a beautiful November sky, surrounded by children playing on bicycles and roller skates – always at a good distance.

Thanks to our volunteers Steve B., Xavier S., Arno V. and Haithem M. and our general manager Tony M. (from ENGIE Benelux, ENGIE Solutions, and Nuyts).

 

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Our mission was to provide electricity by solar panels to a new maternity ward in addition to the health centre in Hoder, in the region of Kaffrine, Senegal.

The context for this mission was very particular because of the type of construction of these buildings in Nubian vaulting, i.e. built only with mud bricks and without cement. This technique is very durable, but does not allow any fixation to the wall.  To solve this problem, we took the gamble of entrusting the preparatory work to a local electrician before our arrival. He was thus able to embed the cable ducts during the construction of the maternity ward. On our arrival, we were able to see that he had perfectly respected the advice and procedures sent from Belgium.

The important work of placing the panels, cables, inverters, batteries, etc., and the connection tests took place under an enormous heat (from 42° to 45°) with just a little respite at night when the temperature “falls” to 35°.  We are then happy to be in good physical condition and we remember how good it often is under our Belgian sky ;-).

During this mission, we also replaced the lighting and power sockets in the health centre and the covered terrace used as a waiting room was also equipped with LED tube lighting.

After a few days in this heat, it was at dusk that we were able to put the installation into operation. What a joy and satisfaction to see all the smiles and glances discovering the different rooms of the buildings lighting up one after the other, as well as the large courtyard. And after only a few seconds, all the sockets were squatted for charging the phones: so we knew that they were also working perfectly well!!

From this mission, we will undoubtedly keep the memory of the overwhelming ambient heat but especially the warmth of the welcome of the Senegalese representatives of the Malem-Auder association as well as the staff of the neighbouring primary school depending on the association.

Freddy A. et Marcel B.

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For several months now, Energy Assistance has been involved in the renovation project of the hospital in Panzi, Bukavu, Congo. In collaboration with Doctor Mukwege and Professor Cadière and supported by Fondation ENGIE, our volunteers are preparing the electrification of the Dorcas house, where the women reside after having been repaired to regain a certain autonomy.

Read the story of this beautiful collaboration in the article Paris-Match below :

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It took no less than 8 hours by plane to Conakry and nearly 2 days on the road, not always in good condition, for Olivier, Stephan, Christophe and Sylvia to arrive in Haute-Guinea, in the Kankan region for this mission in 3 parts.

First stage: Balandougou, in the prefecture of Mandiana, a few km from the Malian border. Following various cultural exchanges, Balandougou, birth village of the famous percussionist Mamady Keita, had received a donation of the health post from the inhabitants of the island of Mishima, Japan.  In order to improve the conditions of care during the night and the use of different devices for the laboratory and to allow the installation of a fridge to keep the vaccines, this one was equipped by our volunteers with a PV installation of 3000 WC. The village school has also been equipped with a 1200 Wp PV installation, allowing the organization of evening classes.

The whole village of Oudoumakoro welcomed our volunteers for the second stage of their mission, with welcoming speeches, dances and traditional music.

In less than 3 days, the school and the health post were equipped with a PV installation of 1200 Wp each, as well as a fridge in the health post, and a solar kit in the house of Doctor Sidibe, who will be able to receive visiting doctors.

In Kankan, the third step was to equip the gynaecological clinic Fondation Sidibé with a 4500 Wp PV installation. This will allow the clinic to receive patients, perform ultrasound scans and operations, independently of the network, subject to numerous load shedding and often only available between 7pm and 11pm.

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Thanks to Olivier D., Stephan D., Christophe L., Sylvia B., helped on site by Dramane K. and Abdoulaye K. for these 5 achievements in record time, for their availability, their commitment and their unfailing sense of humour and to Roland R., Christophe L. and Sylvia B. for all the upstream preparation. 😁

Below, some images shot during the mission

https://youtu.be/r-9Zhx3rzcg
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Energy Assistance with the help of one of its beneficiaries has set up a first partnership in order to compensate the flights of its volunteers in terms of CO2.

To do so, Energy Assistance has developed a first partnership with one of its beneficiaries in Benin so that the contribution of the beneficiaries to the projects is made under a participative economy formula.  The beneficiaries have committed to replanting 3.6 hectares of mangroves in order to create a carbon sink and protect biodiversity in the region.

Mangroves are one of the most productive ecosystems on our planet in terms of biomass and can store up to 100 kg (on average 40 kg) of carbon per m². This storage is partly in the wood of the trees, which is a dense wood, but mainly in the litter. Mangroves also have an essential role in terms of biodiversity because it is mainly there that a large part of the marine and brackish water species reproduce and form the at the base of the food chain. It should also be noted that mangroves are the most effective natural coastal protection system. With global warming and climatic hazards, this is not to be disregarded.

With 3.6 hectares EA compensates for about 1,500 tons or 30 flights per year over 20 years (A flight to Benin is about 2.2 tons of CO2 per passenger (considering the radiative forcing).

Other projects are under study and soon we will be able to offer our members to offset their private flights to help our beneficiaries develop a participatory economy and thus generate in the long term enough to maintain the facilities offered by EA with the support of its various donors including ENGIE.

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For this new mission, our volunteers José B. Dominique T and Henri M. went first to Kilengi, a village of 1050 inhabitants. In June 2017, José B., accompanied by two other volunteers, Olivier D.R. and Patrick D., supplied the 3 buildings at Kilengi Hospital with solar energy. However, due to lack of correct information, the installation of the solar pump could not be finalized.

This installation was done this time, to the delight of the local people! School children in the village also took the opportunity to receive some explanations on this action:

A long journey, strewn with pitfalls and breakdowns, was still waiting for our volunteers to join Kwilu Ngongo. It took them no less than 9 hours to cover the last 35 kms!

As the hospital suffered many power cuts from the SNEL (National Electricity Company), the mission was to carry out a photovoltaic installation to provide for emergencies. The network being four-phase and the solar possibility being single-phase, it was necessary to make choices!

Henri proposed to reserve a phase for emergencies. They « just » had to determine what was a priority and to connect it to the photovoltaic system. But, that was not so simple as all the existing installation was built and realized with only one color of cable!

A lot of other actions needed also to be done: to fix the solar panels on the roof, to lower the cables to the technical room, to install the earth cables, to connect everything to the inverter and the regulator and to connect the installation to the batteries.
Local staff were also trained in the proper use of this new facility!

At the end of this busy mission, our three volunteers have still had the opportunity to visit the outbuildings of the sugar mill and the brickyard, working with sugar cane residues!

Thanks to José B., Dominique T. and Henri M. for their dedication and this amazing achievement.

  
  
   

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Born from the meeting between teachers from Auderghem (Belgium) and Malem (Senegal), the non-profit association Malem-Auder supports various local projects, including a millet mill. This mill was electrified by EA in 2013.
During her trip to Senegal, our volunteer Sylvia B. met with them to develop a future project to electrify the new maternity ward and health post.
A nice way to create lasting links and ensure the sustainability of projects.

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