upporting development in Masisi thanks to hydroelectric power

Apr 26, 2017

In Masisi Territory, in North Kivu Province, the verdant hills stretch as far as the eye can see. It is an agricultural region, known for its cattle-rearing, and for its cheeses, exported throughout the DRC. It is also an isolated area with little in the way of basic infrastructure to improve everyday life for its inhabitants.

 

Masisi Territory - a region with great agricultural potential.

Since 2011, Masisi and Walikale Territories have benefited from the ‘Community Recovery and Restoration of Peace in North Kivu Project’, financed by the Republic of Korea with the involvement of the UNDP. By offering economic opportunities to both young people and women in their home areas, the project has strengthened the sense of security and reconciliation in local communities, whilst also combating the drift from the land.

 

Socio-economic development projects are absolutely essential in order to combat the drift from the land in the Masisi region.

In this context, construction of a micro hydroelectric plant has recently been completed and this will eventually supply more than 40,000 citizens with electricity. This project will reduce community tensions through basic social services and improvements in local communities' means of support. In fact, insufficient energy production is one of the major obstacles to development in this region. This issue is holding up job creation and economic activity which could offer prospects to young people in rural areas.

Supplying electrical power from renewable resources to all citizens in the communities concerned would without any doubt increase stability and prosperity in Masisi Territory.

 

Water from the Wau river is delivered by a pipeline to the micro-plant site.

The Wau micro hydroelectric plant is the fruit of the co-operation between the province of North Kivu, the United Nations Development Programme and the government of the Republic of Korea, which has provided the necessary resources.

The hydroelectric site operates thanks to a water abstraction point on the river Wau, located 600 metres from the micro-plant. Water is delivered with a water pressure of 107 metres in height in order to power two turbines with a total capacity of 350 Kw. The works have been achieved by manual labour, and have required considerable efforts from the community to carry them out in an area which is difficult to access.

 

The Masisi Territory is not very accessible in the rainy season and local realities have made working on the micro hydroelectric plant more complicated

The Wau micro hydroelectric plant has an operational capacity of between 250 and 350KW. Two turbines have been installed, of 250 KW and 126 KW respectively. The total cost of completing these works is estimated at 530,000 dollars. Hydroelectric power is a renewable and sustainable source of energy which is also an element in the fight against climate change.

(South Korea's contribution: 330,000 USD, UNDP's contribution: 100,000 USD, North Kivu Government: 100,000 USD)

 

The engineer in charge of the site undertakes the necessary adjustments for the completion of the works.

The opening of the micro-plant took place on 18 April 2017 in the presence of several hundred Masisi citizens, eager to benefit from the electrification of their communities. This event was honoured by the attendance of the Republic of Korea's ambassador to the DRC, several provincial authorities, the UNDP Country Director and the KOICA cooperation agency's representative.

 

Turning on the first light bulb thanks to the micro-plant. From left to right: Ms Priya Gajraj, UNDP Country Director, North Kivu Vice-Governor Feller Lutahichirw and His Excellency Kwon Ki-Chang, Republic of Korea Ambassador

The Republic of Korea's ambassador spoke of the importance of this project for South Korea “This project means a great deal to my country because it brings aid to a population which has suffered the sorrows of war. Conflict always has disastrous consequences for peaceful communities and defenceless citizens. The Republic of Korea, which has also experienced an unfortunate war, has a better understanding of this situation. That is why my government has chosen to contribute to this project."

At the opening ceremony, Ms Priya Gajraj, UNDP Country Director, emphasised: "Supplying electrical power to all citizens in the communities concerned would be a contributing factor to stability and sustainable development in Masisi Territory. It is imperative that national and provincial efforts now ensure that equipment is maintained, management is efficient, and that a fair means of sharing out the resultant opportunities is implemented".

 

Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, Christophe Ndibeshe Byemero was delighted about the future benefits of the project: "Electrification in rural areas leads to rural development! For example, it helps women who are involved in agricultural processing, such as flour production. Access to electricity will also make it possible to keep foodstuffs - such as milk - fresh, and boost growth in the livestock industry. We will soon be able to build dairies and store cheese."

 

The work of supplying the power to the some 40,000 beneficiaries remains to be achieved by local authorities

The territory's Administrator has acknowledged that some works which are a responsibility at a national level are still required in order to supply the power: "We have taken delivery of the materials today but there are still 2 or 3 phases to be carried out in order to make the power available to beneficiaries. The poles are currently being put in place. Two months from now, at provincial government level we expect to be supplying power to key locations such as the hospital, the county-town, schools, etc."

Marc Kasoki, a journalist at local community radio station KALEMBERA FM, hopes that local media will be amongst the first supplied. "To do our job as providers of information, our radios need to have a permanent electricity supply to put on programmes and transmit our broadcasts."

Efforts still to be made on a national level involve in particular maintenance of all equipment, efficiency in management, and implementing a fair means of sharing out the resultant opportunities. This means amongst other things the creation of microbusinesses, lighting for basic social amenities and the use of electrical power in homes.

 

Tradespeople in Masisi currently run their shops without electricity, which limits their ability to sell and store perishable foodstuffs.

The cooperation between North Kivu Province, the UNDP and the Republic of Korea has also made it possible to achieve significant outcomes for local communities in Masisi and Walikale:

 

  • two centres for professional training  covering 8 subjects and with a total capacity of  340 learners per year
  • 2 rural markets have been rebuilt, benefiting 255 people
  • 15 km of agricultural service roads have been reinstated
  • In total, 16,700 people have directly benefited from this project.

 

Once the works supplying the micro hydroelectric plant's power are completed, current and future generations in Masisi Territory will be able to enjoy on a long-term basis the benefits of renewable energy.

Article translated by Alison Currier

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