The clean energy project UNICEF Zimbabwe and Mukuvisi Woodlands

Kids learning about clean energy

Children participating in the training. Image by Amy Wickham 2015

The major Objectives of the project were:

  • To increase awareness and knowledge about clean energy solutions to eco-schools environment club leaders and raise awareness on climate change issues
  • To capacitate environment club leaders on how to design innovative solution to mitigate energy challenges by adopting clean renewable energy practices.
  • To achieve its aims, the project carried out two major activities as follows:
  • Two day training workshops on clean energy and climate change for ninety schools in the three selected provinces for two teachers and three children environment club leaders per school.
  • Development of awareness raising education materials (posters, charts, information fact sheets / energy manual for secondary schools) for the ninety schools participating in the project.

There is a realized general environmental degradation that is emanating from the ever growing population which puts demands and pressures on resources in Zimbabwe. The energy sector is most severely affected area. The situation of lacking energy access and increasing energy demand is escalated by constant power cuts, increased population demanding fire wood fuel and increased resettlements. A drying climate which has seen the drying up of Zimbabwe’s biggest hydro-PowerStation at the Kariba Dam. School children are most affected as they need energy for lighting, cooking, access to health services, access to technology and information, yet this access has been largely lacking. There is a unique opportunity for youth to embark on clean energy projects to benefit them and their communities and the clean energy project seemed to engage with and deliver such capacity in order to facilitate youth to avail of this opportunity. After realizing the knowledge gap on environmental issues in the current education curricula, UNICEF Zimbabwe in partnership with the Mukuvisi Woodlands devised the Eco Schools environmental education programme to address this gap while encouraging schools to form environmental clubs to take environmental and climate change issues practically. Through the programme, schools initiate practical hands-on projects that solve identified environmental problems within the school community. The Clean Energy project adopted a collaborative approach between environment organizations, development partners, government and public institutions such as schools, colleges and universities, in enhancing efforts to prevent continued degradation especially forest resources in particular wood which is in high demand for domestic energy consumption, tobacco curing and brick making. Women, especially girls in and out of school bear the largest burden of sourcing energy resources as they are responsible for cooking.

Children touring a Domestic Biogas Plant at Ndiweni Homestead in Fort Rixon. Image by Amy Wickham 2015

Below is a list of innovations and projects started at schools as a result of this project:

  • Three stoves were developed at Thomas Meikles Pagama Primary in Fort Rixon. One is the portable mud stove and the other one is a portable two plate stove made from an old electric hotplate stove and tins. One tin makes a single plate stove. Both stoves can be constructed from old coil or solid plate. Stoves use tsotso or charcoal. Tsotso is a Shona name for small dry twigs from tree branches.
  • Two plate Tsotso stove constructed at Chamabondo Primary School in Victoria Falls. Temp bag manufactured at Highfield 1 High School in Harare.
  • Two plate Chitofu tsotso constructed at Uzumba High school in Murehwa and Chizungu Primary in Epworth Harare. Two plate stove constructed using old 5litre tins by Zimbabwe Hear Them Out in Victoria Falls. The stoves uses charcoal or tsotso. Tsotso is a Shona name for small dry twigs from tree branches.
  • Two plate stove made by combining an old two plate electric stove and two x 5 litre empty tins. Uses wood shavings or tsotso. Fort Rixon Secondary boy made a handy single plate stove using a floor polish container and a jam tin container. Can boil water in thirteen minutes.
  • Water harvesting at Rangemore Primary School. Baking scones and buns for business in Insiza.
  • A Temp bag at Highfield 1 High School in Harare.
  • The project has produced a manual for secondary schools environmental clubs which has information on environmental awareness, conservation of resources, Climate change education and clean energy.

The programme focused on ninety schools in the three selected provinces in which from each school two teachers and three children environment club leaders. This project targeted to directly engage around 450 teachers and environmental club leaders but the response was very high with more than 600 beneficiaries throughout the projects in the three provinces reached. Two teachers and three children were selected from each of the thirty schools in each of the three selected pilot provinces. The programme was implemented in Harare, Matabeleland North and South Provinces.

The project was well received in the provinces selected. During the monitoring visit conducted, there were efforts at both individual and institutional/school level to implement what has been learnt during the project. Most common initiatives adopted and implemented were the tsotso stove, biogas and temp bag with none of the participants pursued solar cookers or mini grids. The Tsotso stove, Biogas and temperature bags were demonstrated during the trainings and this led to the highest level of update both by individuals and institutions/schools. In fort Rixon area one student at the secondary school has developed a mini tsotso stove that he has tested and it can boil water in thirteen minutes. At Thomas Meikles Pagama School we found the most interesting uptake of project where the school has built two plate mud stoves with the involvement of the whole school including the School Headmaster taking part in the construction.

The clean energy project is replicable and needs to be up scaled and replicated to other provinces. Schools now have clubs in Matabeleland region as a result of this project. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Hwange District invited the Eco Schools Programme to train their coordinators for 2016 on renewable clean energy and this shows that the project has a potential to be up scaled and replicated at the national level because the participants and others who are not directly involved are seeing value in the project. The programme became popular and continue to be requested as is the case with Bindura University of Science Education Environmental Science department which is also asking for a pilot extension of the programme into Mashonaland Central province while the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education has requested for a curriculum review whereby the pragmatic aspects of the programme can be infused into the school curricula.

Renewable energy technology was further promoted at the Mukuvisi Enviro Challenge competition where winning schools were awarded institutional renewable energy technology gadgets (solar panels for schools and solar reading lamps for individuals.

Clean renewable energy is a major subject when discussing climate change both in mitigation and adaptation. The project dubbed ‘The Clean energy project’ but in essence it was broadly renewable energy and climate change. This project used clean energy as an entry point to enhance the children’s knowledge on climate change and the need for changing their life styles and energy consumptions in response to the global problem of climate change. This project aimed at helping the children to think around developing innovative energy solutions in the wake of increased power cuts in the country following the drying up of the country’s largest dam and hydro power generation plant at the Kariba dam. There are co-benefits of climate change adaptation and mitigation that is while clean renewable energy reduces emission into the atmosphere, it is also a way of adapting to the problem of power cuts.

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