A trip to the village

On Monday, Maren, Andrew (Rutgers), and I went with Megan(Case Western) and her UB partner, Zee, to the villages.  Megan and Zee are doing the economical analysis of solar panels in villages of Botswana, so they have been going out to two villages as their work for the month and surveying the people who live there.  The Botswana government started a solar panel energy program, that is available to the people of Botswana as an alternative to grid access.  Solar panels are rented from the government and provide enough energy to use certain appliances, depending on the plan that the family has bought.  For example, the cheapest plan allows for the use of 4 lightbulbs, 1 TV, charging of 1 cell phone or something like that.  I’m not 100% sure about how it all works, but Megan and Zee basically just ask the families about their source of energy, income, expenses, and other things.  Since we’re done with lab work and are just working on our paper now, we decided to go out to the village one day, to see what it’s like there.

The village we went to, Lentsweletau, is about an hour away from Gaborone and most of the village has access to the city grid, but the government’s solar panel initiative is also used here.  We went to many houses (I lost count) but we got to meet many interesting people.  I didn’t take many pictures, because I thought it might be kind of rude, but I got a few.  Of the houses, one was owned by essentially “royalty” of the village.  He is the grandson or great-grandson of the first chief of the village when they first settled in 1911 in the area.  His house was very nice and he dressed really well.  I didn’t take any pictures of his house (sorry) but Maren did, so I will try to get those from her.  When we left, he gave us a watermelon!  Zee says that the people in the village are really nice to us/them because they don’t get visitors often who just come and sit down to talk to them.

Another house that we went to was of a UB graduate but is now currently unemployed.  She is living off of donations and stuff from her parents and her brother.  It was kind of sad to see that after graduating from the university she is back in the village and cannot support herself.

At one house, we were invited to ride on the lady’s donkey cart! She called it a taxi:

It is pulled by two donkeys and just has two wheels on it.  Maren and I went first and it was kind of scary but also really funny.  I decided it was okay to take pictures of this.

My view from the cart.

She had one of her kids drive the cart!

Megan and Andrew went after us.  Look how un-level the cart is.

The sun setting while we were at the last house.  Those are red bougainvillea flowers! After we started using them for our experiments, I have noticed them everywhere.  Even though they aren’t native to Botswana, they have definitely become a local plant.

When we got back from the village, we went out to get ribs at Bull and Bush, where they have a Monday night ribs special.

The menu!

It was all in all a very good day.  I learned a lot at the village that I can tell you if you want to know, but I think that’s enough for one post.  Only one week left!

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6 responses to “A trip to the village

  1. The village appears in such contrast to modern UB and other facilities in Gabarone, and yet only an hour away.

    Do most houses in the village have electricity?

    • In the village that I went to, yes, because they have grid connection, so it’s easy to get. Some people don’t, like the UB graduate, because she doesn’t have enough money to pay for it. But also, some of the elderly don’t want electricity too.

  2. The solar panel program is really cool. Did all/most of the families use it? And how exactly does your locally-sourced solar panel process fit into that?

    • Actually not many families use it if they can get grid access. I think part of the reason why is because the solar panel program limits the number and type of electronics you can use. My research wasn’t related to the solar panel program at all. Just an alternative to solar panels in general

  3. Is it the same cost for grid access vs alternative energy?

  4. Pingback: Church | nguyeninbotswana

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