By Staff Writer:
As people in the country continue to be excited by the inauguration of the new 20 Megawatt Golomoti Solar powered plant which has added value to the country’s power starving grid, residents around the area are in a double cerebration mood.
This follows the investment of some projects aimed at uplifting the lives of people surrounding the area by JCM power, the company behind the solar project.
For instance, during the construction phase of the project, the company spent over $140 000 on direct community investment projects focusing on water and sanitation, education and health.
The project also created over five hundred jobs during construction and dozens permanent positions during operations.
50 percent of the labour force was also solicited from the community of which one hundred were women thereby contributing towards women economic empowerment.
Edward Tsoka who is the Village Development Committee (VDC) Chairperson in the area of Group Village Headman Pitala of Traditional Authority Kachindamoto paints a picture of how the situation was like as far as water and education issues are concerned in his area.
“The whole of this area had broken boreholes and people were forced to drink unsafe water while learners from Chipudzi primary school could walk long distances to access clean water.
“JCM helped us with a solar powered water pump and a tank which is distributing water to the school, teacher houses and the community through taps” explained Tsoka.
As if this is not enough, the company has also constructed two classrooms to aid some learners who have been learning under the tree.
On the health front, Golomoti health centre got its fair share as the company installed a new solar powered water pump following the theft of its previous one which used to serve both the facility and staff houses.
According to the senior medical assistant Jeremiah Mbite, the centre has been operating without portable water or close to a year which has been putting a strain on the health personnel especially those working in the maternity wing.
Said Mbite: “Approximately per month we conduct over seventy deliveries so with water shortage it meant we were providing services under susceptive conditions which is against the World Health Organisation WHO recommendations”.
Meanwhile, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer for JCM power Christian Wray highlights his company values community engagement which he observes fosters a better working relationship with community members.
He is of the view that adherence to government policies on community engagement has helped in making implementation of the solar project easy both at Golomoti and Salima sites.
He said: “ we had a lot of meetings with members of the community including chiefs to help them understand more about our work and in the process we came up with some investment projects depending on the needs as well as job offers to both men nd women from the area”.
All development projects are part of the agreement between the company and community members through the government of Malawi as part of corporate social responsibility.
The use of solar powered water pumps in health and education facilities is one of the climate change mitigation solutions the company has adopted in all of its project sites and surrounding communities as the government of Malawi is reiterating the need for the country go green due to continued climate change and its devastating effects.