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Staying Power. Can communities sustain solar-powered water projects in the Niger Delta?

Miriam Isoun


The remote riverine communities of the Niger Delta inhabit a rich tropical rainforest ecosystem, surrounded by ‘water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink’. Only the deepest boreholes provide reliably clean drinking water, but power is not readily available to pump it to the surface. While solar energy presents itself as an effective solution, numerous failed solar water projects in the Delta have lent this option the reputation of being unworkable. This paper describes how the Niger Delta Wetlands Centre (NDWC) has tried to find the most effective ways to provide potable water using solar-powered systems, and to understand the challenges – both technical and socio-economic that must be overcome for communities to sustain them.

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Publication information

  • IIED code: 16044IIED
  • Published: Jul 2014 - IIED
  • Theme: Energy
  • ISBN: 978-1-78431-070-7
  • Language: English

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Isoun,M., 2014. Staying Power. Can communities sustain solar-powered water projects in the Niger Delta? IIED, London.

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One in five people around the world – 1.3 billion people – lack electricity to light their homes or run their businesses, while wealthy countries consume vast amounts of electricity every day. IIED’s energy team works to promote access to sustainable energy for the poorest communities and a more equitable consumption of energy resources. Energy access is an area of great inequity. Access to sustainable modern energy services underpins health, education and livelihoods and increases resilience to climate change – yet millions of people have no access to electricity and use dangerous and unhealthy fuels for lighting and cooking.

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