Taita Taveta county turns to solar power to supply water

Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui shares a word with the former Melhus Municipality Clerk Mr. Roy O. Jevard during the meeting PHOTO COURTESY

Taita Taveta, KENYA: The Taita Taveta County Government in collaboration with Melhus Municipality of Norway will introduce the use of solar power at Njoro Kubwa springs in Taveta to cut down on the high cost of electricity used to supply water.

Currently, TAVEVO pays 1 million shillings per month as electricity bill for supplying water.

According to a report from the County Department of Water and Sanitation, the solar panels will provide an extra 154,000 kWh per year. This will save the County approximately Sh. 12 million a year which will be utilized in increasing connectivity from the current 3,650 households to 13,650 while at the same time increase the supply from 2,000 to 5,000 cubic meters.

“This project will improve water reticulation in the Taveta New Town and further tackle waste management. We have to form a committee to kick-start this project which will be vital in resolving challenges with sewerage that has hit hard Taveta and Voi,” said CECM Water and Sanitation Gasper Kabaka.

Addressing partners from Norway, county officials from Water and Sanitation, Health services, Tavevo, Taveta town and Naima’s rescue center, the Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui said green energy is self-sustainable.

“I am optimistic about solar as there has been a great evolution in the past few years. Although it can be expensive at the very beginning, it has a long-term impact. We should also consider a mini grid to store the power in order for us to fully exploit and utilize the potential of solar energy,” said H.E Mlagui.

She added that the project which will greatly benefit the Taveta new model town, should not only focus on providing water for household usage but also capture urban agriculture which will ensure food security and improve nutrition.

Once implemented the project will increase the efficiency of pumping water, guarantee easy access to clean and safe water for residents while fast-tracking development in the new town.

Through the same partnership, other sectors of the Taita Taveta economy will greatly benefit from the Taveta Town and Melhus Municipality. Twelve officers from Taveta Town have already undergone a crash program at a university in Norway while other 10 officers served at Melhus municipality to gain knowledge in an exchange program that built their capacity through training on social service, revenue collection, solid waste management and general urban management.

This has earned Taveta New Town recognition as the best-planned town in this side of the Sahara. Mr. Rashid Mohamed said the plan has attracted more than 65 other municipalities within East Africa for a peer learning mission.

According to Mlagui, knowledge gained out of the training will come in handy during the implementation of the Kenya Urban Support Program as the county plans to set up Mwatate Municipality.

“There is a component in Taveta on town planning that is very interesting. This not only shows the potential of what we can be as a county but also shows that we can make a model town and a city that has  proper urban development and beautiful surrounding  without the skyscrapers and traffic,” said the Deputy Governor.

H.E Majala who relayed the goodwill message from Governor Granton Samboja during a meeting between the County Government, Taveta Town officials, and Naima Saleh orphanage founder, noted that the County Government is keen to see how to start this program across the County. She said that the County will ensure that it implements all the plans to support and actualize the project proposals.

In his remarks, the former Melhus Municipality Clerk Mr. Roy O. Jevard said this program is implemented through cooperation between the municipalities to improve service provision in different sectors of the economy. He termed the program undertaken with Taveta Town as a success.

In 2014 the two partners also started a conversation on water, primary health care and children rescue center project.

Through this partnership, a team of health professionals have been involved in the mapping of all homesteads hence making it easy to locate the 65,000 people within Taveta Sub County.

“One of the projects that came up as a result of this partnership is the FK exchange program which has truly proven that Universal Health Coverage can be achieved. Through it, strategic outreach programs have been carried out where health professionals go to the community level to offer health services,” said Health Services CECM Dr. Frank Mwangemi.

This partnership will also support the establishment of a rescue center at Naima Saleh orphanage in Mahoo Ward.

According to the manager Naima Saleh, this project comes at a time when she is planning to upgrade from an orphanage to an Orphans and Vulnerable Children Rescue Centre as the Children’s Act no longer recognizes orphanages.