Utilities & Energy compliance & Ethics Conference

Smart Village Education Committee Report

Olga Anderson – Chair
Alexander Anderson – Secretary

ISV Education is a division of the IEEE Smart Village (http://ieee-smart-village.org/), which seeks to empower off-grid communities through electrification, education, and entrepreneurship.

The Education Committee recognizes that electrification provides the foundation for creating sustainable micro-businesses and critical infrastructure (including information and communications technology, clean water & sanitation, and affordable healthcare) in off-grid communities worldwide. A complementary element in creating these opportunities is lifelong learning – kindergarten to retirement – to deliver more equitable education in terms of quality, quantity, and skill sets through primary, secondary, and vocational training.

Digital learning technologies and community-wide hybrid intranet/internet are made possible through reliable access to affordable energy, resulting in economic growth, social empowerment, and holistic sustainability.

This month, the education committee has formed eight new working groups targeting UN Sustainable Development Goals with a focus in

  • Technology for education
  • Vocational training
  • Gender equality
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and healthcare
  • STEM/STEAM education and engineering outreach to youth in Africa and inner cities
  • Humani-tourism and eco-tourism
  • Project management skills training and resource development

Two of the current projects by members of the Education Committee working groups are bringing electricity, education, and high speed community intranet to Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea, and establishing a community agriculture and solar-powered drinking water center in Mpanoka, DR Congo.

Madan Community, Papua New Guinea

Located just 300 kilometers north of Australia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with a population of 7.46 million, 840 languages, and a predominantly tribal societal structure. With the highest child and infant mortality rate in the Pacific and an adult literacy rate of 58%, development throughout rural PNG is stymied by absence of critical infrastructure, such as electricity (90% of the population lacks reliable access), water and sanitation (68% lack access), and internet (97% lack access).

The Madan Community is the center and base site for a joint project between IEEE Smart Village and Transform International that is bringing electricity, intranet, education, safe water, proper sanitation, and community empowerment programs throughout Jiwaka and Western Highlands provinces. Within the initial 10 km project radius, there are seven tribes with an estimated 44,000 people and 40 schools with an average of 275 students each. Nearly all schools lack safe drinking water, electricity, proper sanitation, desks, books, and other critical teaching resources.

Students at two elementary schools in Madan that will receive solar electricity, digital classroom packages, and connectivity to community intranet and electronic learning resources

Schools and community centers will be electrified through solar systems ranging from 0.5 kW to 5 kW. Microgrids at each of the 35 schools will power LED lights and digital classroom tools including a computer, projector, intranet router, and printer – thereby allowing teachers to show interactive media, participate in learning forums between schools, and create their own WordPress websites with content accessible by the entire community. Teachers will also be able to attend recurrence training and virtual classes hosted by community centers to improve their proficiency in English, STEM, and motivation/mentoring of students. All schools will be provided access to the e-Granary digital content library hosted on the local intranet.

The Madan Medical Clinic and Birthing Center (which serves more than 10,000 patient visits and 5000 vaccinations a year) is entirely off-grid and only has a very small amount of photovoltaic generation capacity installed. However, this is insufficient for many of the critical medical services that are provided by the clinic. As a result, the clinic has been increasingly forced to turn away patients and send them to other facilities. A 10 kW microgrid will be installed to provide after-hours emergency care, refrigerate vaccines, sterilize instruments, and provide power to a Rotary community center and nearby homes.

Installation of a photovoltaic array on the roof of the Madan Clinic

An infant receiving one of 5000 vaccination performed by the Madan Clinic every year

DR Congo

The Sustainable Agriculture working group is launching a pilot project to exhibit farm-to-market entrepreneurship driven by electrification and ICT technologies. The first location will be in Mpanoka Village, which is 20 miles from the capital of DR Congo, but is cut off economically and technologically.

The working group is currently purchasing several acres that will serve as a demonstration site illustrating sustainable practices, solar-powered farm equipment, and electric vehicles for transportation of food grown and processed by the community (including cassava, corn, peanuts, sweet potatoes, eggplants, beans, tomatoes, and peppers).

Sustainable Agriculture working group members Avoki Omekanda (center) and Ciza Ndegey (left) visiting a family garden in Mpanoka Village, DR Congo

The pilot project will also install a distribution center for safe drinking water using rainwater harvesting and solar pumping. Currently, the only natural source of clean water is a well in the forest, a mile from the village. Women and Girls walk through rough terrain several times a day to draw water.

Working group members Avoki Omekanda and Ciza Ndegey hike with young girls from the village through 30°C heat to gather water from a well