Merry-go-round Powers Katutura Crèche

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Living in a country where electricity is scarce with little hope that those not yet connected to the national grid will soon see some light, it has become obvious for communities to apply different technologies that seek energy generation. With the high electricity tariffs across the country coupled with energy deficits, the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) has found a way to harness energy for children. Last week, the organisation unveiled a playground merry-go-round that generates electricity as it spins. The goal is to provide a cheap, simple power source for the Oprah Orphanage Home Kindergarten that stands in an informal and undeveloped area of Katutura. The N$50ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 merry-go-round produces about 8 amperes during children’s playtime at a comfortable speed. The generated electricity accounts for 30 percent of energy requirements at the centre. To ensure adequate electricity supply at the kindergarten, there is also an installation of solar PV modules for continuous trickle charging of the solar energy batteries (photovoltaic PV batteries). “We are gathered to celebrate a unique electricity generation system for your kindergarten, a merry-go-round that produces electricity while children play, supported by solar energy … the kindergarten now enjoys a reliable electricity supply with no running costs,” said DRFN Executive Director, Dr Setlof von Oertzen. Every month, the kindergarten management spends N$200 on wood needed to prepare meals for 37 girls and 47 boys. The kindergarten uses five litres of petrol every two days to run a petrol generator used to power a television set, several lights, a hi-fi and a sewing machine. The project has not only improved the learning environment for children but also promoted energy awareness and renewable energy strategies among them, said DRFN. “The Energy merry-go-round will also encourage young children to stay away from the streets and exposing them to structures and opportunities to learn and play in a safe environment,” added DRFN. Other plans are underway to complement cooking and heating technologies. The project intends to introduce wood-efficient stoves that can reduce wood consumption to a maximum of 80 percent. “This implies that the wood fuel expenses for the Oprah Orphanage Home Kindergarten will reduce from N$200 per month to less than N$100,” said DRFN. Promoting sustainable energy technologies has a huge potential to boost economic growth in today’s age of power shortages. The kindergarten generates income of about N$2ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 monthly used for rent, buying food for the children and paying other day to day expenses at the centre. Despite being financial resource constraints, the Oprah Orphanage Home Kindergarten aspires to improve the living conditions of orphans and vulnerable children through establishing a community centre. The centre would be used for traditional and sport activities, assist children with homework edutainment programmes and other social concerts. The centre would also engage the poor and vulnerable in the community by training them in self-empowerment projects such as gardening, woodwork, sewing and designing. The kindergarten was established in 2000 and is operated by the Petrina Haingura OVC and HIV/AIDS Organisation. It is registered with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare.