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Micro-Hydro Electricity Project

Back in 2006, when Community Friends began managing the tea estate, there was no electricity or health care. Villagers have joined Community Friends as partners in land restoration. Community Friends has invested in social programs benefiting the community, like the health clinic and an eco-friendly micro-hydro project. It is remarkable to see how the micro-hydro electricity project provides free electricity to the homes of people who have never had electricity before and allows the locals to watch World Cup cricket!

Community Friends helped install the micro-hydro system. The system equipment was donated by the World Bank and then Community Friends supported the installation. The micro-hydro generator utilizes the abundant water flow in this mountainous region. There is a beautiful stream that runs through the land and drops thousands of feet in elevation from its headwaters. As a result, the generator captures the power of this stream and the village has eliminated the use of burning kerosene by promoting lifestyle shifts away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy. This provides clean power to the village and frees villagers to focus on important tasks rather than constantly struggling to obtain kerosene from far away town centers. In the future, Community Friends plans to utilize solar power as well.

I see the micro-hydro project as being one of the most important developments that Community Friends has brought to the people of Waitalawa. One of the key problems affecting them at the moment, as I see it, is young people moving out of the area–causing a negative cycle and a lack of workforce. Having electricity and connectivity through TV and hopefully the internet at some point is key to reversing this decline. Through community land stewardship and economic development, the people who work this land are becoming more empowered to manage it for themselves, benefiting future generations. This economic transition from the colonial model to a local living economy will create profits that circulate within the community.

John Ainger
Community Friends’ Intern