SWAP moves to empower communities
Abigail Macala (38) is working with the SWAP Trust (Sanitation Water and People) in Botswana which is a Barefoot Solar Power Distributor.
She is the first of a network of “village entrepreneurs” in Botswana being supported by the Trust to introduce “green” and alternative energy products to the rural disadvantaged areas.
“Around here they call me Abi and I have a home in the remote and under-developed village of Jamataka, which is about 25 kilometres west of Francistown. My husband passed away 12 years ago leaving me with three children to support, and it has been a difficult struggle to make sure they were properly fed and educated. In Jamataka there is no electricity, running water or proper roads, which makes life difficult. But I hope to change all that by introducing new solar technology to this community first, then in the ten surrounding villages”, said the mother of three.
In so doing, Macala says, she will not only create an income for herself, but will offer employment to many other people in the area.
“With Kiva loan, I’ll buy my first stock of solar products, which will definitely be popular with all the people, especially the school kids who will be able to have lights at night, which will allow them to study and do their homework.
As for their parents, it will be so wonderful as candles and paraffin are now so expensive and also dangerous. Many people suffer burns and even die from accidents with these things,” she says.
Macala says she has done voluntary work for the Village Development Committee (VDC) for many years and that her passion is to help improve people’s lives.
“If we all work together and help each other we can have much better living conditions,” concluded the new entrepreneur, who will be jetting off to Amsterdam in June this year as a SWAP delegate.
SWAP is a newly launched non-governmental organization which seeks to empower people through sanitation, water and energy initiatives.
The NGO has five trustees on its board who are eager to make a difference in the lives and economic status of Batswana in all corners of the country.
Robert Hanna, the co-ordinator of SWAP Botswana says the main thrust is to create new market opportunities to empower the common man.
“This is the first time in SADC to have such an initiative. These projects around the world are funded by the Global Community of Social Investors from around the world, who want to be game changers instead of being grant makers,” Hanna said.
SWAP opened its offices early this month and already has projects running in the Ngamiland to improve the sanitation conditions for children in primary schools.
“The pilot projects in the North West district is in conjunction with USAID. We have decided to start with children because they will become advocates for sanitation and personal hygiene in their communities,” said Hanna.
With a country faced with acute energy demands Hanna indicated it was about time Botswana looked at alternative sources for energy.
“With 56 per cent of the population not on the national grid and with 320 sunny days this country has excellent solar conditions. Solar energy can replace the 11 million litres of paraffin sold in Botswana reducing the carbon dioxide and associated health issues,” highlighted Hanna.
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