Maltahöhe – While access to renewable energy and sustainable living is a pressing issue in Namibia, the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) through its Promoting Renewable Energies in Namibia (PREN) Project in partnership with the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) and National Youth Council of Namibia (NYC) took a solar cooking and sustainable living workshop to the desert from 13 August 2018 to 17 August 2018. The workshop took place at the NaDEET Centre, which is located in the NamibRand Nature Reserve in the Namib Desert.
The main objective of the workshop was to transfer practical knowledge on solar cooking and sustainable living by using experimental learning methods.
The workshop was attended by 35 people, which included 28 young people from all over the country who have a keen interest in solar cooking, renewable energy, climate change and sustainable living. Participants also included students from IUM, NUST, UNAM, WVTC, youth leaders and out of school youth. Coincidentally, the workshop was also attended by young people from Germany, France, Spain and the United States and this diversity created an opportunities for networking.
According to Mr Rodney Seibeb, the Project Coordinator of the HSF PREN Project, the 28 participants were chosen from different regions of the country and were selected based on their motivation letters and they all have different backgrounds. This was done to have a very diverse group that consists of students, unemployed young people and those who had just left school.
At the beginning of the workshop Mrs Viktoria Keding the director and co-founder of NaDEET Centre assured the participants that, after leaving the workshop they will be able to solar cook and live in a sustainable manner.
“We started NaDEET with the purpose of having environmental education truly being environmental – we practice what we preach”, said Mrs Keding. She further stated that everything at NaDEET is not perfect, but it is a work in progress that is based on the “we practice what we teach” philosophy. NaDEET Centre tries to make environmental education as practical as possible and has incorporated these teachings into their daily lives, making it an amazing experience for its participants.
Ms Suzette Rooi a Chef from Koes in //Kharas region said that she has learn a lot about solar cooking. She further said, “Solar equipment is cheap and effective and I will integrate solar cooking in my catering business”.
Ms Emilia Nangolo a student at Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (WVTC) and also a solar cooking and sustainable living workshop participant asserted, “It was actually nice being at the Namib desert since it’s my first time being here”, when asked about her impression of NaDEET Centre at the end of the workshop. “I actually learnt a lot and we did a lot of activities that I have never done in my life, like cooking on a solar cooker which was actually fun for me because it’s an experience which can never be forgotten”, she continued.
“I chose to come here because in Omaheke people are experiencing lack of electricity for them to cook and when it rains the wood becomes wet and they cannot afford stoves” stated Mr Jamanuka Mbaisa a participant from Omaheke region. This workshop is a learning curve for him, to take what he learnt about solar cooking and educate the marginalized groups in his region and not only depend on the government to provide electricity. He also requested the NaDEET Centre to go to the region’s rural areas and conduct a research in order to come up with ways on how the people can survive without electricity.
With the capital city facing water challenges, one of the Centre’s main targets is to educate participants on how to survive on minimal water. Bucket showers, tippy taps and dry toilets are some of the methods the Centre has adopted in order to use less water than you would use with the normal bathroom set-up.
“I used to take long baths at home, but after this workshop, I will start having shorter bath and use as little water as I can”, said Mr Lehabian Abraham another workshop participant.
Mr Michael Mulunga who is the Coordinator of the NYC was thankful for the wonderful opportunity presented by NaDEET Centre to host the solar cooking and sustainable living workshop. “Not only did we meet new friend, we have also come to this environment where we learn practically, because sometimes when these things are said, you hear it but I think feeling and going through the experience yourself really puts you at another level of really realizing that this is true and it can be achieved”, emphasized Mr Mulunga. Using 33 litre on average per person on the first day of the workshop and reducing it to 17 litre on average per person on the last day, has proven that we can achieve a sustainable lifestyle.
“I am one of those people who had that mentality of saying, you will never cook anything on a solar cooker. It is just fine for show to people and I do not need to worry about them and so forth, but after eating food from the solar cooker, I am really convinced and I am going to preach the message and also promote solar cooking” he enthused.
Mr Mulunga concluded by thanking Mrs Viktoria and the NaDEET team for their amazing work. “We have seen the passion you have for this place. You have infected us with your passion and we will go out there and preach the message of NaDEET Centre, the amazing work that you are doing here and I want to motivate you to continue for another 100 years, because you are on the right path in taking Namibia forward” he said.
The NaDEET Centre’s water requirements are supplied through a nearby borehole. The borehole is 64 meters deep. They pump the water from the borehole using a solar pump into two water tanks. One tank is for the water used in the kitchen and the bathrooms and the other one, is a storage tank in case of emergencies. Furthermore, the Centre has a solar park, which supplies the Centre with electricity. The solar park is decked with solar panels, which receives sunlight during the day converting it into solar energy, which is stored in batteries and later used at night. Mr Andreas Keding the Technical Director at NaDEET explained the operations of the solar system and provided practical examples on usage and energy efficiency.
NaDEET has been operational for 15 years and wishes to continue its quest in educating school children, young people and the community at large on how to be energy efficient; save water; manage waste without polluting the environment and how to live a sustainable lifestyle.
A raffle competition was held for the participants and Ms Landi Moses won a brand new solar oven to the value of N$ 2 500.00 curtesy of NaDEET. Hence, workshop did not only give practical skills to the participants, but there was also a take home gift for Ms Moses to continue to practice and share what she has learned.
Mr Seibeb stated that the workshop was a success as the objectives of the workshop were met. He further said that there is a possibility that a similar workshops will be planned for youth at the NaDEET Centre next year.