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.

A Solar powered Electric Milling Machine

Milling machine

Many of the communities we work with are agricultural, with maize flour contributing to an integral part of their diet. In the rural Maasai Tanzanian communities we work with, villagers often have to travel miles to neighbouring towns to access a diesel milling machine. Once there, they can face long waiting periods for sufficient customers …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/a-solar-powered-electric-milling-machine/

Bucket-mounted Solar Systems

Solar panel systems can be expensive and time-consuming to build. They can require specialist knowledge to set up, and be difficult to maintain. In rural communities, it can make a huge difference if a solar panel system can be made simply and at a lower cost. That’s why Smart Villages is always on the lookout …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/bucket-mounted-solar-systems/

Grid extension in Tanzania

On our most recent trip to Tanzania, the number of half-fallen trees was quite noticeable. I thought nothing of it at first, even though several of them were lying across the roads. They could have been damaged in storms? That was until we realised that they were all under newly erected grid electricity lines. The …

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

Rural Perceptions of Solar Power

Although our first solar installation in rural Tanzania has been having overwhelmingly positive reviews by the local community (powering the local water borehole, the first fridge in the local shop, and a small, efficient, electric milling-machine) we still have a hard time explaining the concept of solar power to some of our other target communities. …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/rural-perceptions-of-solar-power/

An Intro to Rural Tanzanian Schools

Trying to get a good education in the rural communities with which we work in Tanzania is a real challenge. With classes of 80 students, insufficient chairs, classrooms and equipment, no electricity or running water, lack of funds to buy textbooks, and some parents encouraging their children to fail the pre-secondary exams so they don’t …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/an-intro-to-rural-tanzanian-schools/

Sustainable Offgrid EdTech for the Developing World

This project is funded by InnovateUK, the UK’s Innovation Agency. In the communities in which SVRG works, improving education is a high priority. Rural schools are often overcrowded, difficult to reach, and poorly resourced. Teachers are poorly paid, resulting in high rates of absenteeism among teachers at government schools. Existing educational material (for example free …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/sustainable-offgrid-edtech-for-education-continuity-and-outcomes-in-the-developing-world/

Innovative Access to Healthcare for Impact in Remote Communities

Doctor and Nurse using tele-health system

STI4D, a sister company to SVRG, is carrying this project out jointly with our NGO partners in Tanzania, Orkonerei Maasai Social Initiatives (OMASI). This project is funded by InnovateUK, the UK’s Innovation Agency. Access to good healthcare is often challenging in the developing world, but this is greatly compounded for people living in remote off-grid …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/innovative-access-to-healthcare-for-impact-in-remote-communities/

A Wood-Mounted solar array for the Tanzania’s Maasai Radio Station

The community radio station: Orkonerei Radio Service (ORS FM), is the first Maasai pastoralists’ radio and was established to better communicate with the Maasai in Terrat, Simanjiro district. For many Maasai who don’t understand Kiswahili or Maasai, it’s their only source of information and important for education on health and agriculture. At their peak, ORS …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/a-wood-mounted-solar-array-for-the-tanzanias-maasai-radio-station/

Animals in the Electronics!

Three days before our recent flight to Tanzania, we’d received word that the inverter installed at our 50kW solar array in Ormoti had stopped working. The local electrician was sent in to take a look, and found a lizard had somehow managed to crawl inside and fried its brains. He removed the lizard, thinking it …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/animals-in-the-electronics/

First impressions at Ormoti, and a Maasai welcome

This post was written new SVRG team member Natasha, on her first day on site in the communities in Tanzania: We arrived at the Ormoti site, to scenes of Maasai men sat around, wrapped in their traditional cloth. The solar array installed by Bernie, Anna and Arran previously was way bigger than I’d imagined, with …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/first-impressions-at-ormoti-and-a-maasai-welcome/

The InnovateUK Energy Catalyst and working with SVRG partners

Recently, we were invited to give a presentation by our colleagues at the UK Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (UK LCEDN), as part of a webinar they were running on “Transforming Energy Access” for organisations who were interested in applying for the latest Innovate UK Energy Catalyst (round 8) competition, closing in September 2020. …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/the-innovate-uk-energy-catalyst-programme-and-working-with-partners/

What we mean by Community Engagement – the SVRG way of working.

Recently our project partners in Lesotho, the Energy Research Centre at the National University of Lesotho, asked us to contribute to a week-long Masters’ students event on rural energy access. Because of COVID, we were sadly unable to make it in person, but delivered the presentations via Webex instead. Here is the contribution from Dr …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/what-we-mean-by-community-engagement-the-svrg-way-of-working/

The SVRG approach – what are we all about?

Recently our project partners in Lesotho, the Energy Research Centre at the National University of Lesotho, asked us to contribute to a week-long Masters’ students event on rural energy access. Because of COVID, we were sadly unable to make it in person, but delivered the presentations via Webex instead. Here is the contribution from Dr …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/the-svrg-approach-what-are-we-all-about/

Innovation Africa-style

One thing that the Smart Villages model is based on is the notion of “appropriate technology” – that is the use of technologies that are specified and optimised based on their context and utility, rather than their absolute efficiency or performance. The classic example is the use of, say, an off-the-shelf lead acid battery instead …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/innovation-africa-style/

Unbalanced 3-phase power nearly killed the radio

So let’s start by stepping back a little. Our innovative partners, OMASI, have set up a number of different productive, social and community projects on their main site in the village of Terat in the Simanjiro District of Tanzania. There’s a shop, a community meeting hall, and a hostel (originally set up as somewhere for …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/unbalanced-3-phase-power-nearly-killed-the-radio/

Meetings with Remarkable Trees…

We were delighted to find that one of the many amazing things about working in the Maasai Plains of Simanjiro District, south of Arusha, is the indigenous baobab trees. The baobab, Adansonia digitata, is native to Africa, and classes as one of the biggest trees in the world. Whilst they “only” reach 25-30m in height, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/welcome-to-big-tree-country/

Solar Boma Systems should be a thing

For the Maasai, the traditional living unit is the boma. This is an extended, or multi-family compound surrounded by a thorn hedge (usually), which will contain between 3 and 10 houses. There is an inner circular compound, also surrounded by a thorn hedge, to keep the livestock safe during the night. Satellite photos of the …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/solar-boma-systems-should-be-a-thing/

Vidya Sagar Devabhaktuni, SKG Sangha – biogas entrepreneur

[:en] Vidya Sagar Devabhaktuni, President, SKG Sangha Location: Bangalore, India “Human beings are divided, but their basic problems are all the same”   Having provided biogas solutions to over 10,000 villages since the mid-80s, Vidya Sagar Devabhaktuni has explored remote areas all over the world. For the president of SKG Sangha, exploring local cultures and …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/interview-vidya-sagar-devabhaktuni-skg-sangha/

Saddek Fenardji, Canopy – solar entrepreneur

[:en] Saddek Fenardji, General Secretary, Canopy Location: Paris, France “The biggest challenge is getting paid” Saddek Fenardji remembers a local mayor’s surprise at how off-grid energy shaped Akonolinga, a town 70 kilometres away from the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé. “We built 250 street lights in a city of 20,000 inhabitants, which was otherwise totally in the …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/interview-saddek-fenardji-canopy/

Kopernik Indonesia – solving last mile problems

[:en] Sergina Loncle, Communications Manager, Kopernik Location: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia “The supply chain in Indonesia is a real challenge” On one of Indonesia’s 18,000 islands, Adonara in East Nusa Tenggara, crops such as copra – dried coconut flesh – are sold raw and unprocessed. Copra is usually left strewn on the ground, to dry in …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/sergina-loncle-kopernik/

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