Sustainability for the Mary Ward Retreat Centre | Kenya

Sustainability for the Mary Ward Retreat Centre – Solar Energy

Partner | Loreto Eastern Africa Province

Location | Nairobi, Kenya

Overview 

This solar energy project builds on the success of previous missio München supported sustainability work conducted at the Mary Ward Retreat Centre (MWRC) in Nairobi, Kenya.

This project aims to scale up the MWRC’s sustainability farm to its pre-pandemic capacity by harnessing solar power to create a reliable and efficient water supply. This will increase food and income while reducing costs and the effects of power cuts, drought, and water scarcity. Importantly, the project will provide young local people with the opportunity to be trained and employed in the use of solar energy in sustainable farming.

The purpose of the MWRC is to facilitate the spiritual, psychological and leadership development of youth, laity, and religious in Kenya and throughout the world. This project will enable the centre to focus on its core mission rather than channelling its energies and limited finance into securing food resources and funds for the centre’s ever-growing utility costs.

Challenges

In 2020, COVID-19 hit Nairobi, forcing the MWRC to close down at the direction of the Kenyan government. Despite this, the project was successful, enabling the centre to regenerate the land, grow a range of fresh produce, install and utilise two greenhouses, and keep various livestock.

Solarisation of the water borehole pump and the drip irrigation system has been identified as a way to further strengthen the centre’s capacity to become self-sufficient. Such a move will not only significantly decrease the operational costs of the centre and increase farm productivity, but it will also provide a platform for the centre and farm to adopt environmentally sustainable technology for the future.

Impact

It is anticipated that the agricultural yield from the farm will increase through the solarisation of the borehole pump and the farm irrigation system by creating a continuous water supply not reliant on the national electricity grid, which in Kenya is prone to regular power outages.

The profits accrued from the sale of excess farm produce will increase the centre’s income and make it more self-reliant and financially sustainable.

The project will also provide many young people with employment opportunities, a source of income, fresh produce, and knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation.

Activities

This project will focus on the following activities:

  • Expansion of the technology at the MWRC and its farm to create a reliable and efficient water supply.
  • Scaling up the 2-acre farm to its pre-pandemic capacity by undertaking soil preparation for food production, aided by the implementation of a solar drip irrigation system to maximise efficient water coverage.
  • Continuing to supply the MWRC with fresh quality produce.
  • Selling farm produce not used by the centre itself to people from neighbouring communities, guests, agri-business firms and local business people, thereby generating income to cover some of the overhead expenses of the centre.
  • Training and employing farm workers on the use and role of solar energy in sustainable farming.

Mary Ward International Australia thanks missio München for their generous support of this project.