Talks

Where energy and water flow

 By Ginevra Mancinelli

Drinking uncontaminated water, keeping abreast of world (and national) news, being able to store vaccines and medicines appropriately, reading after the sun goes down: this is all seen as part of “normal” daily life in the West…

Access to water and energy - Eni in Angola

In the so-called developed countries, the number of activities that depend on energy and water passes unnoticed, always considered a given. In certain areas of the world however – I refer to Africa in particular – these are viewed as the privilege of the few, and that’s how it will be for some time.
According to the “Energy Access Outlook: from Poverty to Prosperity” report, there will be approximately 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa without electricity in 2030, in rural areas in particular.

But something’s changing

In Angola, Eni together with Concessionaire Sonangol, Sonangol Pesquisa e Produção (P&P) and SSI, and thanks to the support of the NGO ADPP (Ajuda de Desenvolvimento de Povo para Povo), is building a solar and water installation in Kamupapa, in the rural province of Namibe.

That means energy and water for a whole community

But how did this project come to be and what were the first steps? I made direct contact with Angola to ask the Managing Director, Andrea Giaccardo, to tell me something of his experience and the emotional impact that this initiative has had on him.
There is still a long way to go, but looking at what has already been achieved suggests that we’re heading in exactly the right direction.
Development doesn’t only mean water and energy systems. It also involves training. Eni Angola has also made courses part of the project, like plant maintenance, to guarantee the completely independent and correct operation of the structures, as well as raising awareness of health and agricultural issues.
Around 60 thousand people will benefit from the project, from local schoolchildren to nurses at the local health centres, between Bibala and Gambis and in Namibe Province.

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The solar plant in Kamupapa, rural province of Namibe, as part of Eni's project in collaboration with local stakeholders

This is unquestionably a radical change. The impact on the community has been so great that you can see it everywhere: by the wash house, among the school desks, in the waiting room at the health centre.

With electricity, we now have our vaccines and other medicines that need to be stored properly and night-time deliveries are made problem-free

Antonio Tomas
nurse at the Ndongue Health Post

Medicines are difficult to get hold of and even harder to store when the lowest temperature in the course of the year is a minimum of 15 degrees centigrade. To cope with the lack of electricity, Maria, nurse at the Mangueiras Health Post, had to use ice packs in thermal bags to store vaccines and “vaccine stocks were always ruined due to a lack of electricity”.

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Maria, nurse at the "Mangueiras Health Post" health centre

The local school had serious difficulties as well, but things are different now, as Mrs Martins confirms:

Before, students weren’t very keen on coming to school, but things changed when the solar installation was put in and student numbers are up. Now they want to spend all their time here at school!

Mrs Luisa Martins,
teacher at the school in Mangueiras

Electricity means having light even at night, continuous refrigeration for storing medicines, working computers and printers in school – within reach instead of miles away. For some people it means life.

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Energy is now guaranteed during the night too

Small but important steps forward have been taken

Let’s take health, for example. Up until last year, it was threatened on a daily basis by contaminated water. Thanks to the water installation, that’s no longer the case. In Kamupapa today, in Namibe Province, there’s a well, a wash house, a drinking trough for animals and even a water disinfection system.

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Clean water represents a first step towards a different, dignified, quality of life

But even this first step already means a great deal to the communities in these areas; the happiness on the faces of mothers watching their children go to school, because the hours they used to spend looking for water are now being used to build a better future; the gratification of a teacher in front of a packed class ready to hand out sheets to the students. The biggest reward can be seen in people’s eyes and the smiles on their faces.

Now we have electricity and water in our homes. That was once a dream and is now a reality

Mr Americo Hungulo,
teacher at the school in Kamupapa

READ MORE: A future to believe in by Helen Broadbridge

about the author
Ginevra Mancinelli