ENERGY GLOBE
Kenya

WINNER:
GivePower Foundation

With the Project:
Likoni Solar Water Farm

In 2020, GivePower has built an innovative solar-powered desalination plant in Likoni, Kenya. The "Solar Water Farm" provides clean drinking water to a remote community with limited water access. Likoni groundwaters are too salty to drink and surface waters require boiling. Imported bottled water is costly and often untreated. Likoni residents have traditionally lived with a combination of these sources, costing time and attention but leaving gaps in water access and safety. The Water Farm uses solar photovoltaic power to desalinate groundwater for sale at a much lower cost than the alternatives. 3.5 m liters have been sold to date, saving residents about $ 70,000 and saving an estimated 37,500 tons of CO2 per year. Revenues support local leadership, staff, and maintenance. A portion of the proceeds are put toward future implementation in other communities, with the eventual aim of dramatically reducing water access issues throughout Kenya and abroad.

INITIAL SITUATION

In Kenya, over 41% of the population lack access to basic drinking water services. Though this situation is common around the world, it is particularly imposing in dry, coastal areas such as eastern Kenya, where much of the groundwater is unsuitable for drinking due to its high salt content. This region also faces an added threat of looming water scarcity as the climate changes, making it highly dependent on rainwater. Likoni is a coastal community in the Mombasa area. Though Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city, residents in peri-urban Likoni mostly lack access to power and water. In fact, Likoni is the poorest part of greater Mombasa. About 47% of Likoni’s roughly 250,000 residents live on under $ 1 per day. Likoni groundwater has a high salt content and it is unsuitable for drinking. The forethought and time required to retrieve, store, and home-treat water from various sources is demanding. The best available treatment for surface water is boiling. Boiling comes at a high energy cost and isn’t always practical. There is no suitable way to desalinate groundwater water at home.

SOLUTION

Though it lacks drinking water, Likoni has an abundant saltwater supply, and although it lacks reliable access to power, it also has an abundant solar energy resource. These ingredients made possible a dramatic benefit to the community through solar-powered desalination. The goal of the Solar Water Farm is to capitalize on local solar energy and water resources to provide affordable drinking water for the residents of Likoni. By establishing a sustainable business to operate the facility in perpetuity, GivePower aims to help free community resources which have previously been consumed in the pursuit of clean water. The immediate objective of the project is to deliver 20 liters per day of clean water to each customer of the Water Farm at an affordable cost. The higher outcome is a healthier population with enhanced economic opportunities. Water is sold to customers for 0.5 ¢ per liter. This provides a significant economic benefit to Likoni, where conventional imported waters retail for 2.5 ¢ and are not reliably treated. It also includes a substantial social component. The burdens of difficult water access fall disproportionately on women. By prioritizing the employment of women, the enterprise aims to expand economic participation and drive gender equity within the community.

INNOVATION

The Solar Water Farm is a containerized, solar-powered desalination unit. It was designed to be rapidly deployable and readily scalable. The containerization of the facility means it can be installed in locations with very limited support, expanded to meet growing demand at an individual location, readily replicated at new locations and deployed quickly in emergencies. The business model is very innovative. Traditional interventions such as boreholes and rain catchment have notoriously high abandonment rates. By establishing a locally led business around the Water Farm, GivePower aims to recruit strong local stakeholders. In addition to its staff, the Water Farm presents other Likoni residents with opportunities for entrepreneurship by creating micro distribution enterprises to deliver the water throughout the community. Local leadership and community engagement will contribute to the long-term success of the system. The water is priced so that the sales fully fund the maintenance of the equipment and salaries of local staff, with the remaining proceeds committed to future Water Farm implementations in other communities.

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NATIONAL WINNERS

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OUR PARTNERS

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