In the community of Sak Sida on the outskirts of Burkina Faso’s capital, power is scarce. Less than 5 percent of Burkina Faso’s rural population has access to electricity. That includes sponsored children and Compassion’s church partners in Sak Sida.
Because Burkina Faso is sunny most of the year and solar power is free after an investment in panels, the Burkinabe government wants to see most of the country’s energy generated from solar sources. The World Bank is helping finance Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thiéba’s efforts to build solar plants and encourage businesses to install solar units as part of a transition toward clean, renewable energy.
But few residents can afford solar panels — especially in a country where 43 percent of people live on less than $1.90 a day. Some homes and businesses have electricity, but blackouts are common. Many people rely on expensive batteries, kerosene and candles for energy. Parents trying to run small businesses to generate income for their families struggle to operate without power. Hospitals and schools go without electricity much of the time. And although the wealthiest families and business owners can afford generators, most residents of Sak Sida could never dream of such a luxury.
Compassion’s church partners in Sak Sida recognized the community’s need for power. But they faced a more pressing need — that for water. Many families spend hours each day fetching water, taking them away from other activities like school and work. Many have no choice but to use water from unclean sources, leading to frequent, life-threatening diarrheal illnesses. And a church that runs Compassion’s program had additional water woes.