JBFC Goes Solar

July 14, 2014 9:27 pm Published by

JBFC is located in an idyllic rural village in Tanzania, called Kitongo. Set on the picturesque shore of Lake Victoria, we’re about 45 kilometers away from Mwanza, Tanzania’s second largest city.

 While we’re insulated from the pollution, traffic, and the other challenges of an emerging developing world city, we’re also isolated from some modern conveniences.

JBFC is off the grid. No power lines stretch far enough to reach us. And for a long time, that meant the moonlit, otherwise tranquil nights on JBFC’s campus were punctuated with the rumbling sound of our diesel generator. It was the only way to provide us with a couple of hours of power every night.


The diesel generator wasn’t just loud, it was expensive to run and maintain. JBFC was spending between $1,600 and $1,800 a month on diesel fuel. That’s almost $20,000 a year, which is almost what it costs for JBFC to house and educate our 44 residential girls. It was a huge expense that didn’t always pay off, because the generator often broke down, requiring expensive repairs.

In 2014, JBFC set out to wean itself off of diesel and harness the power of the brilliant Tanzanian sunshine. Thanks to a very generous donation from one of our long-term friends and supporters, JBFC’s entire campus made the transition to solar power.

Thanks to some generous donors in California, JBFC had already invested in a couple of solar freezers and saw firsthand what a difference they can make on campus. Powered by the sun, the freezers enabled us to stretch our food supply, holding dozens of pounds of meat. Now we were determined to put solar technology to work in other areas of campus.

In January, we started outfitting each of our buildings on campus with its own solar panel system. We’ve invested in two dozen solar panels for our buildings. It took a few months of tweaking and calculating energy needs for each building on campus, but they now have 24-7 electricity with minimal maintenance costs!

With lights taken care of, JBFC was able to tackle another major expense our diesel water pump. We have now replaced it with a large solar water pump. We’re now pumping 52,000 liters of water every day. That’s enough for our entire campus and to help out our neighbors. We provide thousands of liters of water to two different sites in the village.

We couldn’t have done it without our generous donors. By cutting our fuel costs, we are saving thousands of dollars every month. And that means more of your donation dollars are going to help lift Tanzanian children out of poverty.


Blogger Chris Gates is JBFC’s Founder & Executive Director.

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This post was written by Mainsprings