Turning sun into water in Burkina Faso

Our latest blog comes from alumnus Simon Meunier. Simon was part of the MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures class of 2016 and did his thesis on renewable energy systems in rural Bolivia. He has gone on to a PhD and has jumped continents to work on a project to build a solar water pump in Burkina Faso and needs your help.

Did you know that there are over 2 billion people in the world who do not have ready access to water? Many of these people live in rural Africa and they spend hours collecting water with hand pumps and buckets. Our project “Turning sun into water” wants to change this for inhabitants of the village of Gogma, in Burkina Faso.

Ready access to water is a wider issue than being able to have a drink of water when you want it. The burden of collecting water falls mostly on women and children impacting on their productivity or education. A reliable, sustainable, low-cost motorised water pumping system promotes female emancipation, enhances children’s education and improves local farming and health.

Our team brings together expertise, experience and local knowledge to solve the problem for Gogma. Driven by Gogma’s inhabitants the project team includes DargaTech (a Burkinabe start-up), researchers from Imperial College London and Université of Paris Saclay and even a student from one of France’s scientific Grande Écoles.

We want to build an innovative, reliable and affordable system for Gogma. We hope this can be replicated by other villages through the “Eau Fil du Soleil” initiative that will be created alongside the initial project. To this end we have started a crowdfunding on the popular French platform KissKissBankBank.

During my time on the MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures at Imperial College London I got immersed in the issues around energy access in developing nations. One thing I learned is that it is key to have involvement and engagement with local communities. In our case the villagers will be involved from installation through to day-to-day management and hopefully ambassadors from “Eau Fil du Soleil”.

Matthias Heinrich (L) and Simon Meunier (R)

This project is also allowing me to collect data to inform my PhD research (supervised by Dr Judith Cherni at Imperial College London). Technical data on the functioning of the pump will be gathered thanks to a monitoring system we have developed. Socioeconomic data on the effect of the pumping system installation on living conditions in the village will be collected through household surveys.  Thanks to the data, I will be able to validate the models I develop and eventually design solar pumping systems which are more sustainable and better adapted to community needs. This will therefore impact numerous communities around the world.

You can learn more about the project at http://bit.ly/SunIntoWater and do not hesitate to contact us at suntowaterproject@gmail.com for more information (I promise we’ll answer).

We need your help to raise the €15,000 necessary to install the system. So come and join us on our crowdfunding page and share it extensively. Turning sun into water is even more difficult than turning lead into gold, that’s why we cannot do it on our own!

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