OLPCorps UofColorado Namibia

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Ryan Knight and Julie Nania, and other students responsible for this OLP Corps application, study at the University of Colorado School of Law. Our project will be supported by Elephant Energy (www.elephantenergy.org), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works in our project area in Namibia and was founded by Doug Vilsack, a 2008 CU Law graduate.

The Namibian Context:

In the 1990s, community-run nature Conservancies formed in Namibia’s wildlife-rich rural areas to thwart poachers, increase animal populations and generate funds from tourism for rural development projects. Elephant Energy was formed to assist the Conservancies and their support organizations, the World Wildlife Fund and IRDNC, to promote rural development and nature conservation though the dissemination of appropriate, low-cost renewable energy technologies in Conservancy areas. To that end, Elephant Energy distributed 50 BoGo solar-powered flashlights (www.bogolight.com) in August 2008 to the Caprivi Region’s nine Conservancies and plans to distribute over 1000 more in the fall of 2009. Like the lights, the 100 XO laptops will be used as seed technology to encourage Conservancies to invest money earned from tourism in life-changing products. Elephants, which only a decade ago were feared and poached, will help to light the homes and educate the youth of Namibia.

XO Dispersion and Education Plan:

Dispersion: We will donate 50 laptops apiece to two rural, off-the-grid elementary schools in two separate Conservancies in the Caprivi Region of Namibia. Individual learners will own the laptops. Participating schools will be chosen with the assistance of interested Conservancy chairman during April and May, as we do not want to promise laptops before we know they are available. However, the project will be undertaken in either the Kwando River area (Choi and Singalomwe schools) or the Eastern Floodplains (Kasika and Impalila schools). All of these schools educate 6-12 year-old students and are small, allowing for student-laptop “saturation” (1:1 ratio) in at least one grade level per school. The WWF and IRDNC will receive the laptops prior to our arrival and will assist with storage, transportation and logistics during the summer. Arrangements for solar power supply for the schools will be made prior to our arrival in Namibia with the assistance of the WWF and the Ministry of Mines and Energy. We will also formalize our relationship with SchoolNet, a Namibian internet service provider that can assist with off-the-grid internet connection and other technical needs. Namibia’s school holidays take place in May and late August, so this will not be an issue.

Ten Week Plan: We will spend our first week conducting meetings in the two Conservancies to introduce ourselves to families and school administrators. We will designate a focus school for each of weeks two and three where we will work to finalize power-supply issues, distribute laptops and instruct teachers on laptop use. Weeks four through nine will be spent working with students and teachers to develop curriculum at both partner schools. Continuing education for teachers will occur in the afternoons/evenings and on weekends. Curriculum will focus on environmental education, creative writing and small group exploration of different XO applications. An employee of the Conservancy, including mangers, game guards, women resource monitors and enterprise officers, will visit once per week to encourage linkages between Conservancies and schools. Involving children in the Conservancy movement will build a conservation ethic from the ground up, making children agents for change in the region and preparing them for employment in tourism and rural conservation-related businesses. In addition, emphasis will be placed on involving parents in each child’s computer training. During week ten, we will set up a meeting for teachers, students and parents at an appropriate location (Bum Hill Camp or Kasika Conservancy Office) to discuss the future of the project and additional school and student needs. A new Elephant Energy volunteer as well as WWF and IRDNC employees will be present at this meeting so we can transition our work.

Sustainability: The purpose of the project is to encourage Conservancies to invest the funds they now earn in useful technologies like the XO laptop. The 100 XOs should be considered demonstration products that will be used to encourage broad dissemination in Caprivi in the future. The future proliferation of XOs in Caprivi will be promoted by the WWF, IRDNC, Elephant Energy and future volunteers from the University of Colorado.


Please contact us for further information about our project and the success of our proposal:

Elephant Energy

2028 Meade St. Denver, CO 80211