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Knowing that renewable energy is the future, Community Energy Malawi (CEM) engaged science, environmental and wildlife clubs at Balaka Secondary into learning and embracing renewable energy. The organization’s Energy Development Officer (EDO) for Balaka, Louis Yona, visited the clubs on November 8, 2018.

The visit was under the Green and Inclusive Energy (GIE) project which CEM is implementing in the district with support from Hivos. Through it, the organization is working with various stakeholders and groups in its sub-GIE project, Malawi for Green, Localized, Inclusive and Decentralized Energy (Malawi – GLIDE) which is also being carried out in Chitipa and Ntchisi together with a national wide advocacy on energy being green and inclusive. Working with students in various secondary schools has been prioritized and this is also being implemented in the other two intervention districts.

After a brief presentation on renewable energy for the students, CEM took the students to Mpiniumodzi Primary Secondary, one of the organization’s intervention area, to learn more on renewable energy systems. CEM installed solar water pumping system at the school, solar home system in five teacher’s houses, solar home system in two blocks and staff room. The students took upon this opportunity to learn on the technical installation of solar systems as well as advantages of renewable energy.

Speaking during the visit as he guides the students around the systems, Yona told the leaners that using solar means that energy will always be available.

“The system uses sunlight which is always in abundance. We are affected by hydroelectricity whenever there are low water levels in Shire River. But with solar, we are assured that energy will always be there,” he said.

On his part, after the tour, the club patron, Helmes Sozalio of environmental and wildlife club was thankful to CEM for organizing the visit.

“We are thankful for your visit. The students have been looking forward to learning more on solar systems. Finally, this has happened and they have gained a lot,” he said.

The sentiment was agreed to by one of students, Martha Kuchipanga, who said that they have learnt a lot from the visit.

“For the first time I have seen and known how a solar system works. In addition, the advantages of solar systems,” she said.

The school is working on an energy plan to produce 10, 000 fire briquettes and a biogas system for their energy needs like cooking. This is being championed by the two clubs as a way of cutting down on deforestation by 70 percent as the school is no longer using electricity since it is expensive and unreliable. Currently, for cooking, the school uses more than 30 tons of firewood per term. Established in 1967, the school’s current enrollment is 478 students of which 316 are boys while 162 are girls. This adds on to 215 students on Open and Distance Learning (ODL), 127 boys and 88 girls.

In the GIE project, CEM is in partnership with other four organizations: Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO), National Association of Business Women (NABW) and Renew’N’Able Malawi (RENAMA). Under the partnership, the organizations are working together with communities and policy makers to make energy both green and inclusive.

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