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Behind the Scenes of Our Monitoring and Evaluation Trip

The most recent M&E trip brought KiloWatts for Humanity (KWH) back to communities in Zambia. A part of what makes KWH a unique organization is how they check in with communities who have recently received solar energy systems, continuing their support. Between the equipment upkeep, cash flow and stocking the store, the solar energy systems can be complex to manage.


John Davis, who was on their most recent M&E trip to Zambia, helps with the modeling and simulation for KWH solar energy systems. He first got involved in 2017, a couple of years after graduating from University of Washington, intrigued by the opportunity to work in the development field. From 2017 to now, Davis has been leading the evaluation efforts for KWH, and he has also co-led two of their new projects, the installations planned for fall of 2024.


“We’re funded by donations and grants,” says Davis. “Typically, funders will want to know about the impact of their dollars that are going toward these projects,” Other than checking on the impact of the installed solar energy systems, funders also want to hear about how the kiosks are able to gauge the type of support the community may need.


In order to provide the best support possible, KWH has partnered with a local organization, Caritas Monze, for roughly the past five years. They assist with many different aspects of each trip, but one of the most important ones is interacting with local residents. “They’re Zambian, so they understand the community dynamics and are fluent in the languages. With Caritas Monze, we are able to interact a lot more directly than we would if we just showed up,” Davis said.


The ability to communicate effectively has enabled KWH to build trust with the Zambian communities. Says Fikani Phiri, the Water Development Assistant for Caritas Monze, “Just seeing the whole process, the whole shift... seeing people have doubt at first and then excitement is a favorite part of the work we do.”


Davis shared how the sense of strong community was one observation that greatly inspired and impressed him. “It’s pretty amazing how quickly they can mobilize community resources,” Davis said. “When the community decides they’re gonna do this, suddenly they’ve created like thousands of mud bricks.”


Projects Officer for Caritas Monze, Caritas Habeenzu, voiced the fulfillment she gets by the work she does to help communities gain the tools they need to thrive. “It’s that sense of fulfillment, when you go out there in the community and stay there until the very end, you can see there is a lot of mindset change and physical change. That inner fulfillment of changing someone’s life, it’s something nice."


An M&E trip is not just about analytics and work. These trips provide KWH and the communities the chance to connect on a deeper level. They have the opportunity to teach each other even more skills, and KWH contributes support to the fullest extent. Workers at Caritas Monze and volunteers with KWH love the work they do bringing sustainable energy to places it truly matters.

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