Solar brings clean water to Madagascar

2011-08-16 17:17

Cape Town - Rural communities in Madagascar are receiving access to safe drinking water and electricity with a solar power project.

"Solar energy is a life-giving technology that can improve the welfare and education of a country's population," said Benoit Rolland, managing director of Tenesol.

Typical of a poor country, the majority of Madagascar's population do not have access to clean drinking water and solar water pumps are an efficient way to ensure that communities get access to water.

Solar pumps have also been installed in Zambia where it has allowed farmers to irrigate land that would otherwise not be able to produce crops.


Local communities in Madagascar are trained to maintain the solar pumps to ensure that they work optimally.

Contaminated water often results in outbreaks of diseases like cholera as was demonstrated in Haiti after the earthquake in January 2010 that killed an estimated 200 000 people.

"Until now the only option for the community was to get water from the rice fields, water that is unsafe to drink and has major health implications," said Vololona Razafindrainibe of ASA Madagascar.

Renewable energy projects have been touted as a cost-effective means of limiting harmful greenhouse gas emissions and both wind and solar appear to be front runners.

Localised projects are more efficient because it limits the transmission losses that can occur when energy is conveyed over long distances.

"We can sort out the energy crisis in the rural areas. With between 1MW to 5MW, you could power up to 5 000 homes," Windwatts Turbines managing director Sean van Horsten told News24.

"The idea is to use the electricity where you are situated, and these massively expensive projects are advanced by people who really want to sabotage renewable energy," said Hermann Oelsner, president of the African Wind Energy Association.


Small solar projects can add value to the lives of ordinary people though improves access to energy and health through safe drinking water.

The company's electrification projects have provided a cleaner environment for healthcare services.

"Before solar energy was installed here, we used oil lamps and torches to work with," said Dr Nathalie, chief medical officer at the local dispensary.

"Now, when a patient comes in at night for treatment, having light makes our job much easier. It's like working in a small town, rather than in the bush."

"Solar energy is a versatile solution to the world's water and electricity needs," said Eloi Rakotoarisoa, managing director of Tenesol Madagascar.

French-based Tenesol has been installing the solar-powered pumps and electrification projects since 1997 and has a plant in SA.

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  • Lunguza - 2011-08-17 13:19

    I wish we could read and comment on such useful articles. This would lead us to focus our energies on productivity and implementation of more of such projects in South Africa and stop the racial hatred with which we are so obsessed!!!

      Rob - 2011-08-17 13:55

      I agree, well said

  • Badballie - 2011-08-19 09:58

    I understand the solar electricity bit, but the safe water part eludes me? I understand that solar pumps can pump water to the surface but this doesn't make the water safe to drink only purification of some sort will do that. also as far as water pumps go, whats wrong with using windmills as have been used for hundreds of years??

      sadiemy - 2011-08-19 16:23

      Solar power enables purification plants to run as well as electricity to boil water.

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