Malawi International Project 2010 – 2018

Many newer members of the club had heard talk of the ‘Malawi’ solar power project but could be forgiven for lack of any real understanding – until now. Neil Beattie and Muir Austin gave a well-received, comprehensive review of the project from inception in 2010 up to present day.

In 2010, the then International Committee took advantage of the generous gift of funds from Ayrshire Coastal Path book sales, together with matching grants from the Rotary Foundation, to promote an idea for providing renewable energy to a number of villages in Malawi. These villages were impoverished and without any prospect of a mains electricity supply.

Within two years, a contract had been let and works completed. Supervision had been undertaken by the Limbe Rotary Club who had proposed solar power installations, agreed the specification, and were party to the contract. The project comprised provision of solar power to the villages of Chaulouka (for domestic power to twenty mud huts), Bunyenga (to pump a village water supply), Mualo (to allow LED lighting in a primary school) and Malonda (also LED lighting and power for a secondary school).

Unfortunately, one of the projects (Bunyenga) has suffered from the theft of cables and taps, and another (Malonda) from exhausted storage batteries. It had been understood that maintenance and servicing tasks were to have been carried out by villagers (paid for their efforts) but this was apparently neglected. Neil and Muir have proposed that additional, one-off funds be raised to allow the water supply at Bunyenga to be restored and the batteries at Malonda to be replaced. This work would be undertaken by a local, trusted contractor and the villagers would contribute their time (in physical work) and assume subsequent ownership. A budget total of £4,900 was advised.