The Lighting Mekanisa Initiative
Mekanisa is an urban district located in the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The neighbourhood is mixed in ethnicity and socio-economics. Ethiopia is home to many diverse challenges; however, in regards to this project proposal, the changes in climate and existing environmental stress are of greatest concern. People in this area regularly face water and electrical shortages and outages--despite it being urban and connected to the national network. There are rolling blackouts of electricity throughout the country. The aim of this initiative is to build more resilient communities by fostering ideas and technologies that will enable people to adopt alternative solutions that are both sustainable and improve livelihoods. Mekanisa is a pilot area, but this initiative has a great deal of expanding potential.
This is the project of ICO member Logan Cochrane, who is Canadian but has lived and worked in Ethiopia for a number of years. Logan's MA thesis delved into the issues relating to climate change in urban Ethiopia and the ability of people to adapt to those changes. One of his team's proposed projects is a pilot project for solar power utilization. This project would include holding a workshop regarding solar power technologies and distributing solar power lighting technologies to communities.
"We have three main aims: (1) To raise awareness of alternative technologies that will address the needs of people and that are better for the environment, (2) to demonstrate how beneficial those technologies can be, and (3) if the project is successful, we want to expand it to additional communities" (Logan Cochrane).
For 60 home-based simple solar powered lighting units the cost is approximately 19,996.8 ETB ($1,145 CAN).
The proposal is to offer a workshop for 60 households in Mekanisa in order to address the wider issues of caring for the environment, water conservation and electrical consumption along with instructions on how to best use the solar power technologies being distributed. Each home will be followed up three times by a local representative to measure the effectiveness of the project and the benefit brought by the project. It will also allow for further dialogue to continue and facilitate a time for additional follow-up questions to be asked.
The hope is that this initiative will address that immediate challenge or regular electrical blackouts in the community, but also it will also facilitate a process of community learning whereby the community members are exposed to new ideas about consumption, sustainability and the environment--with practical and realistic solutions that are both more sustainable and life changing.