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  • Writer's pictureKristin P

Cheeba Implementation: Day 2

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Today was our first full day in Cheeba. On the agenda: meet the community, get started on assembling the data acquisition system, and checking that the solar installation is done per our design team’s specifications.

The Cheeba women’s group greeted us with a traditional dance and song. Some of the men even joined in! The women’s group will run the energy kiosk after its been installed. 

After the dance, we met with community members and leaders. Although some of our team had previously visited Cheeba during an assessment trip, this was many of our team member’s first introduction to the community.  Many of them speak English as a second (or third) language, but we also used translators.

After introductions, we like to get to know the community better through an exercise called “community resource mapping”. We ask the community members to draw a map—usually in the dirt--identifying buildings and landmarks that are important to them. A lot can be learned from what they choose to include (and what they leave out). 

We also visited the building that will be transformed into the energy kiosk. In just a few days time, it will be transformed into a mini power plant, capable of power freezers, sewing machines, and a barbershop!

Later in the morning, the contractor arrived to being installing the solar panels, batteries, and other parts of the energy kiosk. We have a volunteer design team back in Seattle that determines how large the panels and batteries need to be, based on how sunny the location is, and what the electricity will be used for. We then open a competitive bidding process to Zambian contractors to install the system.The contractor will start by wiring the interior of the kiosk---its outlets, breaker boxes, lights, switches, etc. Later in the week, they’ll move on to the panels, batteries, charge controller and inverter.

We also got started on assembling the data acquisition systems. We’ll cover this in more detail in a later post. Basically, the data acquisition system lets us monitor how the energy kiosk is performing from the U.S. We can identify issues before they become a problem, and help troubleshoot if something goes wrong.

Whew! What a first day!

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