UNDP mission to Ghana finds encouraging examples during school visit

17 Feb 2013

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UNDP China personnel have completed a recent mission to Ghana from 17-28 February. The trip looked at how Chinese renewable technologies could be used to meet Ghana’s local needs for affordable and effective off-grid energy solutions. During its time in the country the team was able to visit staff and pupils at the Methodist Senior Girls’ boarding school in Manfe.

The school is home to 2,056 students and 140 teachers and staff. One particularly arduous task amongst a myriad of duties to be performed in educating so many children is the preparation of daily meals. While the school has electricity, it uses open fires for cooking, burning Oil Palm kernels and other waste products. The school purchases the kernels from a local Palm Oil producer for 0.15 USD a kilo, providing a cheap and convenient source of energy for the never-ending task of feeding over 2,000 growing children.

The use of the kernels is a good example of how a waste product can become a valuable asset in the local economy. This waste not want not philosophy, which can often be found in rural areas, is often overlooked as development progresses and at times such practices are re-discovered and then hailed as innovative. At the school, the team found truth in the old saying “seek and you shall find.”

The team’s discovery reflected well its purpose for visiting Ghana, as it came to work on a China-Ghana partnership to share efficient, green energy knowledge. Such an approach marks a departure from China’s usual foreign development work, which is characterised by hardware exports rather than education and capacity building.