DRC: Green Energy Powers Guesthouse for Humanitarians Responding to Hunger Crisis
Early morning sunlight sparkles on the 136 solar panels marching across the roof of a new building in Kananga. Horns honk in the traffic below where a man pushes a wheelbarrow down the dusty street below.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) humanitarian guesthouse in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a feat of green engineering that may serve as a blueprint for similar initiatives elsewhere.
Its construction and maintenance have generated jobs and boosted the local economy. Most importantly, the gleaming solar panels atop the blue-and-white building offer renewable energy in a region plagued by rolling blackouts.
“It’s the first time we’ve done this kind of project on such a scale in DRC,” says Callan Murray Hocking, the U.N. World Food Programme’s head of engineering in the country. “It’s a good example of what can be achieved working together with the private sector in the fight against climate change.”
“The U.N. World Food Programme’s solar system in Kananga is probably one of the best I’ve seen in the world,” says Martin Sjoholm, from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, MSB, which managed the overall guesthouse construction. “If we can copy-paste this solution to fit any construction project, it could become a standard.”
Now, as the country’s south-central Kasai region slowly emerges from the especially brutal conflict of 2016-17, when 1.4 million people were displaced leaving fields fallow and hunger rife, the guesthouse also embodies bigger hopes. Namely, that the U.N. World Food Programme and its partners can shift from short-term crisis response to supporting the government in creating a vibrant and prosperous region.
“The work we have done to date here has helped to save lives,” said U.N. World Food Programme DRC Representative and Country Director Peter Musoko, who attended the guesthouse inauguration with local dignitaries and Sweden’s Ambassador to DRC, Henric Rasbrant.
“Now, we need to shift the dial from lifesaving work to life-changing work,” Musoko adds. “This building represents how we’re going to move forward – by working together.”
This story originally appeared on WFP’s Stories on November 10, 2021 and was written by Elizabeth Bryant.