Skip to content

Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA Targets Sustainable Off-Grid Energy Solution

  • World, NEWS
  • 3 min read

Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA, one of the first multi-racial schools in southern Africa, aims at going off the grid by 2030, as part of its strategic goals. As it celebrates 60 years of existence this year, the school is accelerating its sustainability efforts. The school’s strategic intent is to be the leading African school in sustainability education, planning to go solar and be 100% off the grid by 2030. Other environmental projects in place include water purification and harvesting, greywater recycling, a bio-digester, and a permaculture garden.

Central to the school’s deeper commitment to the environment and sustainability, it aims to have sustainable practices embedded in all aspects of the curriculum and in the operation of the school ensuring minimal impact on the environment.

Commenting on the future, Jackie Otula, the Principal of the school said: “We are committed and excited by the journey ahead driving our vision to be the leading school in sustainability education and practices, promoting sound environmental practices and doubling our efforts to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals. We aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.”

The school is inviting individuals and organizations to partner with it in the sustainability programme. Among other sustainability projects, the school is already actively engaged in:

Water Harvesting

Waterford Kamhlaba looks forward to being completely self-sustainable water-wise and having no carbon emissions. Its top dam was the first dam built at the school, as the school grew larger the dam capacity was not sufficient to supply the needs of the school, so a second dam was built to increase the supply of water for the school. As well as the extra dam, sumps were built to capture the underground water that is pumped into the dams. It also harvests the rainwater from the larger roofs on campus, the classroom block, and the cafeteria. The harvested water is directed into the dams. The school’s tank capacity, which gravity feeds the school with water is 340 000 lt, has nineteen 10 000 lt tanks and one 150 000 lt storage tank. The school uses approximately 120 000 lts of water a day.

Bio Digester

The biodigester produces burnable biogas and a nutrient-rich slurry. The bio-digester was the result of a student-led project – funded by the students who won the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2015. The function of this bio-digester is to use the left-over food from the school’s cafeteria to fuel the heating of water that is then used to wash dishes in the cafeteria kitchen. The food waste is fed into the bio-digester and is broken down into a burnable gas. This gas fuels the gas geyser which heats the water used to wash dishes. A by-product of this process is liquid fertilizer, which is used in our vegetable garden. (Any extra food waste from the cafeteria is also used by the permaculture gardener to make fertilizer, and the balance is given to staff members to feed their dogs and pigs.) This bio-digester serves as a producer of sustainable power, a responsible method of discarding our food waste, as well as an educational tool.