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Shedding light on communities suffering from energy poverty, Schneider Electric South Africa has been working with the Zandspruit community, through their partnership with Emthonjeni for four years to make a meaningful change in the everyday lives of community members.

Located near Honeydew, Johannesburg, Zandspruit informal settlement is home to a community of people living in poverty, where high unemployment rates and difficult living conditions are rife.

“When we first became aware of the situation in Zandspruit, the number of households with access to regular power sources was almost non-existent, with only 10% of homes connected to legal electricity. Consequently, fatalities were being experienced due to illegal electricity tapping,” explains Zanelle Dalglish, Schneider Electric’s Head of Sustainable Development for Anglophone Africa.

“It was then that Schneider Electric South Africa’s collaboration with the Emthonjeni Community Centres started, in 2014. Through this partnership, Emthonjeni has since been able to serve this community better, while also improving the facilities at the centre.”

During this period the Schneider Electric’s team helped to prepare approximately 600 breakfast and lunch meals, while also contributing a variety of vegetable and herb plants to their garden. Solar lighting systems were installed in containerised classrooms and the bakery at the centre, as well as numerous donations of practical goods to the community centre’s swop shop.

Additional solar lights were donated and installed at the end of 2016, providing access to energy for more than 1000 people in the community. The company also assisted to train volunteers, as a Schneider Electric engineer trained some community members on how to safely install the solar lights, where after they received vouchers from the company to assist with their basic needs.

“Full sets of school uniforms, stationery and food items were also donated, as well as solar streetlights which we installed towards the end of 2017, providing much-needed light to community members working in the centre’s bakery from the early morning hours,” she says.

“Schneider Electric recently participated in the global #GivingTuesday campaign, a global movement that supports and encourages, amongst many things, good corporate citizenship and sustainable development. Our two primary focuses are on providing access to education and access to energy to communities like Zandspruit, and it is equally important to us that these interventions have a far-reaching, and long-lasting effect.”