Chipendeke Micro-Hydropower Scheme


Chipendeke is a rural settlement with a catchment area of 9 villages located 65km outside Mutare, Ward 22 Mupudzi in Manicaland. $65,000 was donated by the European Union for the Chipendeke Micro-Hydro Project through the African Caribbean Pacific Energy Facility. Practical Action, an international organisation dealing with smarter technologies to eradicate poverty was responsible for the implementation of this project.

Main canal channeling water from the Diversion Weir to the Forebay Tank

Background of the Project

Chipendeke is a rural settlement with a catchment area of 9 villages located 65km outside Mutare, Ward 22 Mupudzi in Manicaland. The European Union donated $65,000 for the Chipendeke Micro-Hydropower Project through the African Caribbean Pacific Energy Facility. Practical Action, an international organisation dealing with smarter technologies to eradicate poverty was responsible for the implementation of this project.
In October 2008, a potential site for the micro-hydro plant was identified along the Chitoro River that runs through Chipendeka. Practical Action began conducting capacity-building workshops with the community and challenged them to come up with a Community Based Plan document. The plan was approved and a Memorandum of Understanding was drafted. Practical Action would provide the financial resources and technical skills while the community provided labour and raw materials (quarry stones, pit and river sand). Once completed the micro hydropower plant would produce 25KW of electricity and have a lifespan of 20 years.
Construction began on the 23rd of June 2009 with a ritual ceremony to ask the ancestral spirits for a safe and successful project. The community rounded up 10 volunteer builders and 10 volunteer assistants to lead the construction. The total labour cost was estimates at $18,000. The construction took 325 days to complete ending in June 2010. After transmission site testing, the micro hydropower plant became functional in July 2010 and eventually commissioned by the Governor of Mutare in 2012.

Running of the Project
Practical Action conducted further skills training in; business, technical, mechanical, leadership and ‘Training for Transformation’. A constitution was drafted by the community on a shareholder model, those who put in the work would get an equity share. A board was formed which was responsible for the costings, tariffs, terms and conditions, monitoring and evaluation and service providers. Any household within a 1km radius of the substation would get electricity after paying a connection fee. There are 50 households in the grid, 43 households were connected along with; 6 business shops, a clinic and the primary school with four blocks. The average voltage use in Chipendeke is about 250V.

3 categories were used;
1.    $30 connection fee for shareholder (worked on the project)
2.    $70 connection fee for other residents
3.    $100 connection fees for businesses
4.    The school and clinic in the village paid no connection fee

Tariff settings (Prepaid system);
–    Domestic household 16c/KWhr
–    Businesses 32c/ KWhr
–    School and Clinic 10c/KWhr
–    Maintenance Levy $3/month for households, clinic and school
–    $15 month for business
–    $20 allowance for night security guard at the powerhouse.

Chipendeke Rural Health Centre
Before electricity was connected, the clinic was using other forms of energy that were costly. They were using lignified petroleum gas fridges to store medicines, which are potentially hazardous. It was particularly difficult to work under candle light at night, especially during delivering of babies with potential raptures and tears occurring.

With electricity;
There is an increase in the number of mothers coming to deliver at the clinic, which accommodates up to 10 mothers.
The clinic is meeting its 95% monthly immunisation and vaccinations targets due to refrigeration of medicines. Before electricity, the clinic only met 50% of its targets because they regularly ran out of gas and medicines, giving possibilities  for outbreaks. The clinic now has satellite television in the mother’s ward for entertainment, patients and staff can charge their phones, listen to the radio and use laptops. Staff houses also  have electricity.

The main challenge at the clinic is clean running water. They currently use raw water from the river, which is not very clean. In 2015, there was an outbreak of Rubella Measles, which could have come about from the lack of clean running water. The clinic has plans to drill a borehole with a motorised pump and place a septic tank to use for biogas. For further information on the clinic and how to assist please contact the Head Nurse, Mr Chanakira on (+263) 077 498 2081

Chipendeke Primary School
Before the project even began, initial discussions for the micro hydropower project were held at the school premises. The school was a participant and contributed to the collection of local resources. Electricity has brought a lot of advantages for the school;
Student have learnt that there are other ways of producing electricity, not just Kariba. All classrooms have wire tubing and students can do experiments in science classes, they can learn using gadgets in the classrooms, students are also learning to use the computer. Teachers, especially those from cities stay longer working at the school. There are currently 16 qualified teachers at the school whereas before there was only 9. More parents are sending their children to this school because they see electricity as a good thing. Student numbers have doubled from 300 in 2009 to 600 in 2011 and 640 in 2014.
The school was able to use electrical equipment (computer and printer), before they used to have to go to Mutare  65km away.
The school has become a popular centre and highly rated by other schools. They now appear on google and get a lot of
visitors, in 2014 the school had visitors from the German embassy who eventually donated money to build a school block.

Electricity bring confidence to students and the pass rate has increased to 65%. 3 students from the school won in an essay writing competition for Southern African students.

The ECD has also increased in numbers and they have opened a satellite centre because some children were traveling from far.
The school now has adult literacy night classes, in 2015 240 registered for O’Levels.
The school is hoping to purchase a generator to cover for the times electricity is not available (presently 5am-5pm). In future they are hoping to build labs, have computer classes and start poultry projects which would benefit the school financially. The school would also like to start training courses for community members on starting businesses and farming education. For more information on the school and how to assist, please contact the Deputy Headmaster Mr Gowa on (+353) 077 385 3072.

Mr Noah Senga Senga monitoring the turbine in the Power House

Benefits of electricity according to Mrs Doma, a shop owner at the Business Centre include;
Cold drinks, meat and fish can be stored in fridges.
They can actually store more in the shop because of lighting
Shops and Bars can close late hours because of lighting.
They have televisions to screen football and other programs people like to watch.

Personal Profile
Am Interviewed Mr Noah Senga Senga for this article, he is the Secretary General and Spokesperson for the Chipendeke Micro-Hydropower Scheme. Mr Senga Senga is 52 years old and a father of 4. He recently wrote a book called ‘Chipendeke Micro-Hydro Success’, which is still to be published. During the interview, he mentioned that his wife used to complain that he was spending 95% of his time working on this project, working for free without bringing food to the table. Her views changed the day the distribution pole was placed outside their home. He said to her, “Mai bhoyi, basa riya randaiita ndiro iri” (My wife, this is the job I was working hard for). We also  interviewed Mrs Senga Senga on the benefits of having electricity in the village. She stated; “Children can study at night improving grades, I can watch Satellite television (DStv), cooking is easier, clinical medicines that need refrigeration can be obtained nearby, pregnant women can stay at the clinic, shops can stay open much later and have fresh meat and cold drinks, children feel like they are in the city, in civilisation.”

Water released back into the river from the Power House

Future Plans for the Chipendeke Micro-Hydro Scheme
The community is planning to have small cottage industry and light engineering facilities, which include welding, carpentry, sunflower and peanut butter making machines and cold rooms. They would like to upgrade the micro hydropower system, to expand the grid to other surrounding villages that need electricity. They are looking to expand to 100KW and for this to happen they need a gear multiplier. The plan is to sell excess electricity to ZESA and conduct training to educate other communities on the benefits of electricity. The community hope to attract an investor to assist with their long term plans.  For more information on Chipendeke Micro-Hydropower Scheme and how to assist please contact Mr Noah Senga Senga on (+263) 077 498 2081.

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