By Mustapha Sesay, Water &Sanitation Media Network S/L
Energy supply is a key to the socio-economic development of any community or state.
In many developing countries, many depend on either Hydro power electrification or thermal plant.
It is a new concept in the minds of most people to talk of a hybrid plant using both water supply in the rains and solar plant in the dry season to provide electricity supply for community people especially in remote or rural areas.
In Sierra Leone, one area along the Freetown Peninsular that can now boast of this new development is the No. 2 River Community.
Despite the poor status of the road network to getting to this area, it is a tourist resort centre, nice beaches, vegetation and a lot of water shed to keep the turbines in operation.
Prior to the develop of this hybrid electrification plant, the Pioneers Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH
It is in this drive that Welt Hunger Heilf WHH undertook a study on the identification of over sixty water sheds along the Freetown Peninsula and the need to preserve them for the sustainability of water supply to the western urban and rural district.
With the collaboration of the European Union and other organization, one of the watershed was developed and protected to provide pipe born water supply for the No. Two River Community.
With more potentials for this community, Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH strived very hard to ensure that most communities benefit from rural power electrification and water supply.
Tuesday, 5th August, 2014 witnessed another milestone for this community as they were the first in the country to witness the commissioning of a Hybrid Electrification plant that will supply twenty hours of electricity during the Rainy and Dry Seasons.
This remarkable development was graced by the Energy Minister and Deputies, development partners, tribal heads and dignitaries,.
As a sign of gratitude for bringing development to their community, the Head of No. 2 River. Abu Bakraa Turam Conteh commended Welt Hunger Hilfe, the European Union, the Government and all who in diverse ways have contributed towards the completion of the project and prayed that more would be done so as to sustain and extend the project to other communities.
Mr. Conteh further revealed that the development of energy technology plays an important role in the drive towards self sufficiency and called on the people to embrace the development at their doorstep.
The Country Director for Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH Jochen Moniger said in 2011, the project started with the identification of watersheds so as to facilitate the supply of water to the communities. With much improvement, the organization later saw the need to work out modalities for the provision of electricity supply.
With the commitment of the people work progressed on a sound footing as they were always prepared to render valuable services at all times.
The Hybrid Electrification is one of the best of its kind. During the Dry Season, the Solar plant generates electricity for the people of Number Two River as the water level drops considerably while in the Rainy Season, it is the opposite, the mini hydro-plant generates twenty hours of electricity for the people.
He further stressed that as a way of sustaining the project, the people must be prepared to secure prepared meters and pay their bills so that the money would be spent on running and maintenance cost.
With the new hybrid power plant in operation now, this would help promote developmental programmes within the No Two River community, facilitate the efforts of the children to study at home, halt the noise generators have been making in the neighbourhood and even the black smoke they ooze.
As a sea side resort, this would help promote tourism in the area and this in turn would boost the employment of youths and facilitate trade opportunities.
Special commendation was made to the European Union funded project for intervening in the water supply system for drinking and other purposes.
The Minister of Energy Mr. Thomas Macauley commended Welt Hunger Hilfe WHH and partners for such a laudable venture as it is in line with the vision of President Koroma to ensure that electricity is visible in all parts of the country.
According to him, the commissioning of the Hybrid Electrification plant at No Two River signified the good work of the organization as without light, development would be at a standstill.
The Minister admonished all to reflect on the prominent role of light in our societies, namely its importance in the hospitals, factories, industries, our homes, the internet, communication and several other aspects.
The Energy Minister went on to state that it is but fitting that a similar projects are replicated in various parts of the country.
With the commissioning of the Hybrid Electrification project by the Minister, a tour was made to the plant facilities where both the hydro plant and the Solar plant were inspected.
This was followed by a demonstration of the new plant supplying the township with light that was embraced by the people.
According to Moses Kamara, a Cinema Operator, this is one of the opportunities they have been longing for as it would help to curtail the fuel shortage that had adversely hit their business. He hoped that with this development, customers at his cinema would now get the much needed satisfaction, more so when international matches are being played.
Marie Cole, a trader praised Welt Hunger Heilf WHH and all the partners that have contributed towards the growth and development of their community.
We must noted that Sierra Leoneans in the south and eastern part of the country use to boast of the Dodo Dam that provided electricity in the rains while the Bo-Kenema Power Station provided electricity during the dries. Today, this glory is lost as people in that part of the country are married to ‘BLACKOUT’
ONE major reason for the drop in the water supply is the destruction of the watershed or catchment areas for timber and other purposes.
In the city of Freetown, the struggle for water continues as the Guma Valley Dam and other catchment areas continue to suffer from extensive deforestation.
In a situation where stringent measures are not put in place, most of the watershed areas would be destroyed and this would affect the supply of hydro electricity and water supply to most communities.