Schneider Electric Foundation engineers visit New Ireland Province, PNG

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During February 2019 Lee Barrett & Angus McPherson from Schneider Electric Foundation visited New Ireland to assist our local Live & Learn team in establishing the ‘New Ireland Access to Energy Program’.  

The Schneider Electric Foundation / Live & Learn partnership will deliver low maintenance energy systems to schools and health facilities improving the lives of marginalised groups in rural
 New Ireland Province. The project will leverage on Schneider’s technical expertise and innovative technologies and Live & Learn’s community development expertise in PNG. 

As part of this program, Live & Learn will also be carrying out a Social Analysis with targeted communities in New Ireland Province to gauge how community-based solar networks can be established with various models and structures of ownership and governance being evaluated. 

Day One of the Schneider Electric Engineers visit saw us spend most of the day at Malagan Resort to talk through what the likely energy needs and requirement would be for schools, health facilities and the communities. It was very interesting for the local team to learn about the specific requirements and potential issues of energy supply, and in return the team gave great contextual knowledge of the social and logistical challenges in carrying out programs in New Ireland Province.

Day Two, and it was out into the field.  Our first School and Health Post visited was at Ngavalus. It was here that a class from the school welcomed our visitors with a welcome song followed by the PNG & New Ireland anthems. Over the day we visited nine Schools and three Health Facilities. Each of the locations had their own unique issues and complexities with energy, and it was great to have Lee & Angus with us to ask detailed questions to the school and health facility staff. Many photos were taken of the roofing structures to assess the ability to support solar panels. Video interviews were also done with school staff  

Day Three started with a meeting of significant stakeholders including representatives from the Provincial Government, Health Department, Education Department, District Administration, as well as the Tikana Local-level Government. Feedback and constructive discussions were had on what are the critical needs in the community, as well as the government institutions, schools and health facilities. In the afternoon it was back into the field to visit a further 1 school and 2 health facilities. 

On the last day, we wrapped up the program by summarising each of the sites we had visited, looking over the projected timeline of activities, and defining the outputs and the actions to be completed. Later that night our local team member Jordan hosted the group for dinner to sample local PNG dishes, and thanks was given by the local team with the presentation of local bilums (net bags) made in the Schneider Electric green colours. 

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