The commune of Rusaka is a commune of Mwaro Province in central Burundi. The capital lies at Mwaro. An agricultural commune, in recent years forest development in the commune has resulted in arid soils in parts. Burundi is a small, low income, densely-populated, landlocked country. The national income per capita is about $260, one of the lowest in the world. About 90 percent of the population lives in rural areas, although the urban population has grown rapidly in the past decade. According to the World Bank, more than 66 percent of the population was below the international poverty line of US$1 a day in 2006. Most of the rural population depends on subsistence farming and livestock for their livelihood and has only marginal involvement in the monetized economy. It is only in the last five years that private consumption has grown in real terms.
Solar energy is the most common off-grid electricity source in Burundi, although the number of systems installed is very low. With the global price of solar technologies dropping, a small solar sector emerged in recent years that offer smaller systems for private households, businesses and public institutions. However, the market is very competitive and the main activities are donor driven.
Enter EVE and Sunshine Box.
In partnership with the Desperados Club, EVE Foundation donated Sunshine Box portable solar power kits to the Shekinah Nursery and Primary School in Rusaka.
Sunshine Boxes can charge laptops, phones, TVs, lights and last 3 – 5 years; making a world of difference in educating their youth. Only a small percentage of the population attends school. Many don’t see the need; some feel it’s too expensive; but for many there are just no schools available. Some primary-aged children live at home and walk many kilometers each day to get to school. Many children, at a very early age, move in with friends or relatives so they can be near a school. At the end of sixth grade the children take a National Exam. Only those who pass can go on to an accredited secondary school.
Students at the Shekinah Nursery and Primary School in Rusaka can now continue studying despite weather conditions, like fog and rain, diminishing light in the class rooms. Being able to do homework in the evenings has also improved grades for kids living in these rural areas, giving many more the opportunity to pass the National Exam, instead of only a few.
Sunshine boxes have been beneficial for the teachers and staff as well. Teachers can review course work and prepare lessons in the evenings, leaving them more time to spend with students during the days. Staff have saved money, no longer having to constantly buy batteries to power flashlights they were using in the early mornings.
The teachers and staff at Shekinah Primary are happy to report that working conditions at the school have so completely changed, providing a great education to the small community of Rusaka, and want to thank the EVE Foundation for their support and encouragement.