Since solar photovoltaic panels were first invented they have been used for many purposes and will no doubt continue to do so over the coming years. It is always good to hear of them being installed for a worthwhile cause over and above the usual benefits that they provide to the environment.
A Kenyan island is gradually having solar panels fitted to homes in its fight against malaria in the locality. This would be of considerable benefit to inhabitants of the small island and, if the project proves successful, could be used in other remote parts of the world that have problems with this awful disease.
Rusinga Island is situated in the eastern part of Lake Victoria in Kenya being around 10 miles long and five miles wide with between 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants.
The scheme has been thought up by Netherlands Wageningen University that will involve in excess of 4,000 solar panels powering insecticide-free mosquito traps being installed across the island. It is hoped that the project could result in malaria being eradicated from the island.
Willem Takken is the leader of the research team and he made it clear that, ultimately, they would like to remove malaria from the island but in a way that is both sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Interestingly, Rusinga Island does not even benefit from any form of mains electricity that can be used by its inhabitants. Therefore, the idea is to install homes with solar panels that have been produced locally. At the same time, houses would also have a mobile phone charging point installed and fittings for two lights with the later enabling residents on the island to be able to read and study when it is dark. The alternative would have been to use generators that would have been fuelled by kerosene that would have proved prohibitive from a cost point of view and cause pollution.
The idea is that the mosquito traps will encourage mosquitos by the utilisation of natural odours thus removing the requirement to use insecticides that are deemed to cause harm. It will be less likely that the mosquitos will develop a natural resistance to the pesticides which is something that has been happening and has made it particularly difficult to fight malaria.
Wageningen University have had a pilot scheme running that has involved 18 homes on the island. Those properties had the solar panels fitted and they are fully operational. The results have been positive as the mosquito traps have proved most effective. Locals have utilized the solar energy and have been very pleased with the benefits.
Commencing last week on World Malaria Day, residents of the island will see solar panels and mosquito traps installed on about 50 homes each week.
The team at Wageningen University are to be commended for their involvement in the above project that will hopefully see a progressive reduction in the number of people living on the island that could catch malaria.
Lead image: Stop mosquito sign via Shutterstock
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