Solar heating in Luthuli's hometown
Groutville - Solar heaters are to be installed in homes, schools and a clinic at Groutville, the KwaZulu-Natal hometown of former ANC president Albert Luthuli.
This was revealed by President Jacob Zuma at the launch of a legacy project in the small town, north of Durban, during the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Zuma said greater use of solar-powered energy would address health issues associated with the burning of timber and coal.
"The people of Groutville and surroundings will always remember COP 17 as the UN climate change conference that brought a difference to their lives in practical terms," he said.
Involved in the project are the Global Environmental Facility and its implementing agency, the UN Industrial Development Organisation.
"They have been working with additional support from the United Nations Development Programme, and their South African partners, the departments of energy and environmental affairs," said the president.
Eighteen clinics in KwaZulu-Natal were also being fitted with solar heating.
Zuma said one of South Africa's major obstacles in eradicating poverty, particularly in rural areas, was access to electricity.
"People have to burn wood and coal to get some sort of energy which causes health-related problems such as pneumonia and asthma," he said.
"Further economic consequences include productive time consumed by collecting wood, and the costs of achieving energy security can be expensive."
Zuma said the Industrial Development Corporation and the economic development department challenged companies, trade unions and individuals last week to make financial pledges to install solar water heaters in Groutville homes.
"The response has been excellent. Companies, workers and even school children have made contributions," he said.
"We have in 10 days raised money and matching grants for installing solar water heaters in 500 homes, which will bring hot water to more than 3 000 residents."