Category: Stories

Stories are what make the world and inspire the imagination. We have collected, and continue to add, stories about energy access and rural development around the world, as well as the latest updates and thoughts from our own projects and activities.

Prototyping Unfolding Solar

As part of the mobile minigrid project in Kenya, we have been working with Chemolex and Quantum Conversions in Nairobi, on designing a trailer with 10kW of quickly deployable solar power. So what does that look like? Well 10kW of solar power is BIG! Each 430W panel is over 2mx1m (almost the size of the …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/prototyping-unfolding-solar/

Mobile Minigrids – Community Site Survey Report

Smart Villages Research Group and project partners Chemolex surveyed more than 11 remote communities in Central and Western Kenya to find a suitable location for trialling of a mobile minigrid system. The report linked below outlines their key research findings. The Maasai Mara communities around Narok proved most promising, as these were the only ones …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/mobile-minigrids-community-site-survey-report/

Challenging Assumptions through Community Engagement

At Smart Villages Research Group, we truly believe in the importance of a community-led approach. We always start by asking the community to tell us about the challenges they’re facing, through focus groups and service value tests. This helps us ensure that any technology or system we develop will definitely provide value to the community, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/challenging-assumptions-through-community-engagement/

Removing Plastic from Kenya’s Rivers – Year 2 Report

We were so excited to be able to join our Kenyan partners Chemolex again in September 2021, once international travel restrictions had begun to ease, to see the tremendous progress being made on river plastic cleanup, and to sit down together to solve some interesting challenges in the project. Once again, amazing results have been …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/removing-plastic-from-kenyas-rivers-year-2-report/

Climate Change is Real

We often hear on the radio and news about how climate change is disproportionately affecting countries in the Global South. Although the effects are slowly reaching us in Europe, they are rarely life-threatening, only mildly inconvenient or unusual. For our partners in Tanzania and Uganda, it is harrowing to hear first-hand how their friends and …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/climate-change-is-real/

Trusting Time Estimates from Focus Groups

When running focus groups in Uganda, our partners noticed significant discrepancies in the answers that the community members were giving during the focus groups in comparison to the responses they’d given when baseline surveys had been conducted by the Ugandan team over the past few weeks. They challenged the community to explain why they were …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/trusting-time-estimates-from-focus-groups/

Challenges of Working Through COVID

Every organisation has faced their difficulties continuing through COVID, with hospitality sector hit hardest. While some businesses have thrived (those offering digital services, or able to move all their work online) others have been unable to make the transition smoothly. Here at SVRG we are lucky to be able to work remotely while not travelling, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/challenges-of-working-through-covid/

Weather Reporting from Uganda

I’m proud to report that we have set up the first Weather Net WiFi connected weather station in the whole of Uganda, allowing us to monitor the solar irradiation at our Matugga solar site and compare it to the output power of the panels. This will help us with spotting problems and evaluating the effectiveness …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/weather-reporting-from-uganda/

FEC installation, team work and skills sharing

Today we finished installing the main electronics for one of our Farmers Enterprise Centres in Uganda. It was a mammoth 3 days of wiring, programming batteries/inverters and fixing electronics to walls, but we did it! And it wouldn’t have been possible without our fantastic local partners, Eco-Life and Kiima Foods. Throughout the 3 days, we …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/fec-installation-team-work-and-skills-sharing/

Unreliable Grid Power

Even though it looks like the main national grid might soon reach some of the villages we’ve been working with, both in Tanzania and Uganda, it is surprising how many of them are still keen for us to continue installing solar power despite the fact that this will be significantly more expensive for them. Having …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/unreliable-grid-power/

Ormoti Business Hub – Showcase Video!

We’re excited to reveal this showcase video for Ormoti Business Hub in Northern Tanzania, created by our summer intern, Iona Smith. This pilot project was carried out in partnership with local NGO, OMASI, as part of a wider integrated community energy project. The solar-powered site powers the local borehole for fresh water, fridges for cold …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/ormoti-business-hub-showcase-video/

Happy Halloween! – Watermelon Carving and Singing

With the team out in Tanzania for Halloween this year, we decided to try and show our partners what Halloween is like for us back home. Rather than carve pumpkins as they are less common here, we went for Watermelon carving with a twist on the traditional style. I think our partners were rather bemused …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/happy-halloween-watermelon-carving-and-singing/

Donate this week for 50% Match Funding!

Through our work with Smart Villages Research Group, we often come across issues in the communities that are outside the scope of our project funding to be able to address, but which nevertheless are strong priorities for us, our partners, and the communities. We use Global Giving to fundraise for these projects, and currently have …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/donate-this-week-for-50-match-funding/

Fundraising with DonorSee

As part of our project work, we always come across other small issues in the communities in which we are working that are outside the scope of project funding to be able to address, but which nevertheless are priorities for us, our partners, and the communities. In these cases, often even only a very small …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/fundraising-with-donorsee/

Testing COMET on the ground in Somaliland

Exciting news – after an the international travel problems with COVID, our international consortium of partners was finally able to test the new COMET system (Community Energy Toolkit – formerly known as the Minigrid Game) in our target communities in Somaliland – Lughaya, Bali Dhiig and Qool Caday. We will post an update later about …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/testing-comet-on-the-ground-in-somaliland/

Project Summary Booklet

We’ve created a short booklet with photos and facts about each of our main projects, covering projects with both SVRG and our sister company, STI4D. Each project is only a few pages, with bitesize information and lots of fun infographics. Take a look to learn more!

Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/project-summary-booklet/

Find me phone signal!

Before we installed a microwave relay WiFi booster at Kiruru village,  phone signal could only be found by climbing up on top of a termite hill, midway between the powerhouse and the school! When installing equipment, we’d periodically have to pop back to the termite hill to call our team back in the UK for …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/find-me-phone-signal/

Primary School Messaging on Early Pregnancy

On one of our recent community visits to run focus groups in Central Uganda, we were surprised by some of the signs plastered around the primary school building, where the focus groups were held. The first signs outside the building were innocent, with messages like “DO NOT LITTER”, “ALWAYS BRUSH YOUR TEETH”, “WASH YOUR HANDS …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/primary-school-messaging-on-early-pregnancy/

Tanzania in Bloom

The weather in the Maasai plains of Northern Tanzania is much cooler this time than any other time I’ve been. The landscape is also much greener (apparently I’ve come just at the end of the rainy season), and for once I can see crops and loads and loads of white flowers growing, rather than the …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/tanzania-in-bloom/

Electricity is not a service…

… in the context of the Service Value Test (SVT), a key tool in the Smart Villages approach which engages community members to uncover their needs and aspirations for the future development of their village. It’s an important early step when we start working with a new community, and the quantitative and qualitative data about …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/electricity-is-not-a-service/

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