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In rural Zambia, schools have no access to electricity and work is often done in dimly lit rooms. This is a story lived out by thousands of teachers in the country, including Josephine Munkombwe, the head teacher at a rural primary school in Naluja village.

Munkombwe has taught in darkness for over 15 years, often waking up with painful red eyes due to the emissions caused from the paraffin and diesel lanterns made from old tin cans. Consequently, she has developed poor eyesight.

The life of Munkombwe and her pupils has been drastically changed with the introduction of the $1.5 million World Bank-funded project working to bring electricity to Najula.

The government of Zambia has partnered with the World Bank’s Increased Access to Electricity Services (IAES) project to electrify areas across rural Zambia that currently have no access to the national grid. The project will be delivering solar power and other alternative energy sources to four rural areas in three provinces including Kalomo 1 and 2, Lukulu, and Isoka provinces.

At the completion of the project, 23,000 households and 88 public facilities will have access to electricity. 202 public streetlights will also be lit, as well as 367 staff houses belonging to schools, health centers, and other public facilities.

This project is a beacon of hope to a country in which a mere 3 percent of people have access to electricity.

Munkombwe noted, “When the equipment arrived and our village was transformed from darkness to light, our whole community was energized.”

The project has greatly motivated both teachers and students, causing some to enroll in long distance education to further their studies now that they can read at night.

Naruja is the first of many villages to celebrate the arrival of electricity.

Secretary for the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water, Charity Mwansa, recently toured the new solar facilities and exclaimed excitedly, “This is no doubt a winning ticket in development.”

Mollie O’Brien

Sources: World Bank, Lusaka Times
Photo: Flickr via photopin CC