Livelihood impact of solar home systems: the case of Ruimsig informal settlement in Gauteng

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Nyamhuno, Shepherd
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University of the Free State
The study focused on evaluating the impact of a solar home system (SHS) programme on the residents of the Ruimsig informal settlement in the City of Johannesburg. Furthermore, the study compared the SHS to the previous unclean energy sources such as paraffin, candles and firewood. The study used a mixed method approach made up of both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. Data collection was done through the telephone to avoid human contact to minimise the chances of spreading the COVID-19 virus. A total of 245 participants were selected for the questionnaires and five for the interviews. In addition, three key stakeholders were interviewed. The study demonstrated that the SHS programme created numerous economic opportunities that were previously unavailable (78% concurrence), such as trading of electric appliances and the selling of entertainment gadgets. The respondents reported that they were able to work longer into the night (80%), transact well under the lights and do mobile banking. Moreover, the respondents confirmed that they saved money because there was no need to travel to banks since they could now transact from home and also save money used on fossil fuel and candles (75%) that had been replaced by the SHS. The programme included energy-saving fridges that added a competitive advantage to their businesses and also increased their ability to store business stock in the fridges. Socially, the SHS improved various aspects of the community. The respondents had a wider choice of entertainment (97%), could communicate better (98%), and their children could study longer into the night (99%). Also, the residents indicated that since they had access to SHSs, their sense of security had improved (85%), indoor pollution decreased (76%) along with coughing (94%). Lastly, shack fires have declined (63%); however, not just because of the SHS, but also as a combined effect of shack upgrades to brick houses. SHS were unable to power heating elements, such as stoves and irons, leaving the residents to use continue using non-renewable energy sources that still posed some challenges of smoke and fire dangers.
Dissertation (MDS (Development Studies))--University of the Free State, 2021
Informal settlements, Ruimsig, Solar home systems, Impact, Health, Economic, Social, Environment