Thursday 9th July
Since Saturday we have not had electricity or water first thing in the morning. The past three days the electricity has returned at about 10 hrs. the water a bit later in the day. We are told from various sources that this situation has arisen because of the low water levels in Lake Kariba. Lake Kariba is more like an inland sea stretching 170 miles in length. A huge dam was built across the Zambesi river and the large valley was flooded displacing 57,000 Tonga people (The same tribe that lives here in Monze). The dam provides hydro-electric power to many parts of the country, but at the moment the water level is low - resulting in the rationing of electricity.
I find it very worrying to find concerns about water levels at this time of the year. I hope that the measures are to ensure that it will still be possible to provide power up to November, rather than that the problem of providing power already exists. In any event the lack of rain over the past three years is a major problem. It is almost certain that there will be major shortages of water before the next rainy season. If the rains are late, it could be disastrous.
There are still a few people who dispute that climate change is taking place or that humankind is responsible. However, the scientists have predicted the sort of weather patterns that are now being experienced around the world and here in Zambia it is rapidly becoming a matter of life or death. It is just possible that I am wrong about climate change, but the evidence is mounting – and if I am right, can any of us just stand by and let people die and not say anything to try to stop global warming?
Yesterday was a relatively quiet day for me. PIZZ school needs some form of proper water distribution and some toilets on the new site. We spent some time discussing quotes. Provision of a solar pump in Zambia doesn't come cheap. All the components are made in other countries and shipped here, taxes are added etc. I have long hoped that a solar industry would emerge here in Zambia, but there are no signs. Zesco power is relatively cheap and investment in developing local grown manufacturing industries seems to be low. Yet, despite our short days, we must have averaged more than 10 hours of bright uninterrupted sunlight each day since I arrived! The potential for solar power here is enormous. Of course eventually it will come! No doubt when the oil companies are finally persuaded to stop extracting oil (I worry this will be too late to save us from devastating, possibly annihilating, climate climate). Then they will construct solar power stations and sell Africa her sun!
Anyway the local debate is whether we invest in a solar pump for PIZZ School, or save money by connecting to Kariba Dam power! That is assuming we can secure funds for either!
At PIZZ School there are a number of students suffering from Epilepsy. I met a former student last week with this condition and we are working with her grandmother to explore improving her treatment. As with most services in this country, medical facilities struggle to provide the treatment needed. For most specialist treatment it is necessary to go to Lusaka and there are usually medical costs to pay in addition to the fares. The result is that many fail to receive the treatment they need. I met the grandmother once more this morning to see if we can make progress with this issue.
This afternoon I had another session with the teachers showing them some of the internet applications and caught up with Mrs. Sianga who had spent the afternoon with school inspectors.
The evening ended as usual with a glorious golden glow in the sky and the planets continuing to move apart. I have been remiss in not correcting my previous error. The planets are Venus and Jupiter not Mars and Venus as previously stated. I did think it unusual because I seemed to recall one was known as the evening star and the other the morning star. So please accept my apologies and thanks Lyn for putting me right.