One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Access to reliable electricity is essential for leading all aspects of a productive and healthy daily life, ranging from safe cooking to health services. But according to the SDG 7 Energy Progress Report (2018), although huge improvements have been made over the past decade, still only 47% of the sub-Saharan Africa population has access to electricity.
The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood (CPS) rely on electricity to provide critical health services, education, spiritual services, and pastoral work people in need. The congregation runs a home that serves 200 street children, an orphanage, a leprosy home and homes for the elderly in In Kenya and Tanzania. Some of the congregation's income generating projects include growing crops, raising livestock (chicken, pigs, cows) and operating schools and dispensaries.
Many sisters who work at these projects, as well as elderly and ill sisters, reside in the Provincial House in Riruta, Nairobi. After completing a survey and a financial evaluation, the congregation realized it used a great deal of funds on electricity to heat the water for the residents of the Provincial House.
One of the sisters, Sr. Susan Nderi, CPS, saw an opportunity for a more reliable and cost-effective source of energy. A 2016 graduate of ASEC's Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program with a diploma in Leadership and Resource Management, Sr. Susan is now pursuing a degree in Commerce (BS) at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Kenya. She knew that solar energy was a sustainable solution as it would be a renewable energy source and less expensive to maintain. She says,
“Solar energy is a truly renewable energy source and is available every day. We cannot run out of solar energy, unlike other sources of energy...it is also an alternative for fossil fuels since it is non-polluting, clean and reliable.”
Sr. Susan used the skills she learned through ASEC to prepare a grant request to convert the home’s hot water system from electric to solar power.
The funds were granted and the system now provides reliable hot water for the 60 elderly and ill sisters using renewable energy while also decreasing expenses for the congregation.