Power to the People - Kokota Update

by Community Forests International on January 31, 2013

About a year ago CFI staff visited Kokota Islet with our partners at Community Forests Pemba. The small islet, with a population of around 500 individuals, were completely cut off from the rest of Tanzania. They had no fresh drinking water, no school and no electricity. Each day Kokotans were traveling approximately 4 hours by boat in order to collect water for drinking and cooking. Kokotan children would sometimes gather under a baobab tree for school lessons. When we began talking about tree planting it became clear that there were other priorities. One woman stood up in a community meeting and said that they wanted to plant trees, but first they needed water. They took us to see a school that their community had started building - a few walls in a field. 

Although school building wasn’t our typical project we took it on. We completed the school and built a 300,000-liter rainwater harvesting system capable of supplying the community with fresh water. As of early January, the Tanzanian government agreed to support the school by providing teachers. We then worked with the community to grow food and plant trees. We even lobbied the government to sign over the land around the village to community ownership.

In February of 2013, Jeff Schnurr and Sebastian Manchester of CFI will be returning to Kokota in order to provide the islet with electricity. We’ve designed a solar panel system that will provide power to the school and mosque. We’re also working on a portable power system that will allow villagers to charge motorcycle batteries at the school and then carry the batteries home to power lights. Keep posted and we’ll share our progress.

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