- Nozie Sherlene Moyo
Shyira Community Supporters from Around the World Receive Gratitude
Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Beyond our drive to produce renewable and reliable clean energy, East African Power’s motivation is championed by sustainable environmental and social stewardship. Community engagement is the cornerstone for EAP’s business strategy and the main stake of our corporate social responsibility. Since 2015, we have engaged with the Shyira community near EAP’s first hydropower project in Rubagabaga during the planning, development and construction of this plant. During this time, EAP has fostered a strong relationship with the Shyira community by working hand-in-hand to build community-led projects to improve education and boost economic development.
One year ago, the Shyira community was devastated by a torrential storm and flood which washed away hundreds of houses and claimed seventy-five community members' lives. Three-thousand hectares of farmland were lost; 124 roads were destroyed and 64 bridges were washed away in the devastating rains. As EAP has supported and worked alongside the Shyira community for the last five years, this affliction to the community evoked great empathy and encouraged a rapid relief response by EAP.
EAP experienced many challenges during the weeks following the flood in Shyira. Significant damages to the hydropower plant’s reservoir and levees required swift attention and resources; and at the same time, hundreds of local families were displaced and without work. Leadership was forced to consider the best alignment of resources to restart the supply of energy to the community and support the Shyira community rehabilitation. EAP’s corporate social responsibility proved to be the cornerstone of the relief plan and the company first focused on what must be done for the community.
Local government helped to guide EAP’s leadership and led the development of a relief and rehabilitation plan. Community leaders identified the people’s social and economic needs and developed a plan for EAP to come alongside the community and provide support in the reconstruction. Immediate employment and new housing were identified as the critical issues. The landscape was littered with debris from the landslide and all drainage systems were clogged, increasing the community’s risk of malaria. Families were temporarily housed in the local school which also required significant cleaning and debris removal.
Supporters from around the world donated through GoFundMe to support EAP’s mission of raising 20,000 CAD for the relief. EAP matched donations in kind up to 10,000 CAD. With much elation, EAP would like to announce that donations exceeded the original goal; and altogether, 11,995 CAD was provided to this community relief effort. EAP matched 10,000 CAD for a total project budget of 21,995 CAD.
EAP developed a 6-month job program to promote employment and share resources with the community during reconstruction. EAP prevented disruption in the community by empowering the community leaders to decide which families would benefit most from receiving a new home and which locals would be part of the employment program. The jobs, which focused on clearing debris and building new homes, lasted from June to December of 2020. Each participant earned a good living wage.
Initially, EAP aspired to construct twenty 4-bedroom houses. However, housing standards from the local government required EAP to focus their resources on building 10 quality six-bedroom homes. EAP worked to ensure the community could rebuild their livelihoods through a dignified partnership approach. Local community members contributed labor and materials to the construction of the new homes. Families which lost almost all their material possessions in the flood were grateful to co-construct a new beginning.
Local Ndizeye Celestin says, "I am very thankful to have a roof over my head once again. Life will not get back to normal soon, but this is a stepping stone towards a hopeful future for my family.” Ndizeye proudly speaks on behalf of the Shyira community and highlights the heartfelt joy and relief received from the families with new homes. Delighted comments from other community members not mentioned here signify EAP’s dedication to conducting corporate social responsibility in a sustainable and empowering manner.
Challenges throughout this process have shaped EAP’s understanding of corporate social responsibility. To truly walk hand-in-hand with communities, EAP must focus on empowering locals through participation and engagement every step of the way. Instead of viewing communities as recipients of resources, EAP works with the communities surrounding each hydropower project as partners. Community insights are priceless and stand as a cornerstone of EAP’s corporate social responsibility endeavors.
As the Shyira community continues to heal, EAP extends sincere gratitude to each supporter for their generosity and humbly reports that with the donations, over 120 families were positively impacted. Once again, EAP gives thanks to each selfless supporter that contributed to this redevelopment effort. EAP realizes that true development will not come to fruition through a one-off relief project and remains committed to the ongoing rehabilitation of the Shyira community. Moving forward, EAP invites all supporters and friends of EAP to continue along our journey of community development alongside each energy project in East Africa.