About 169 households in Yandohun and surrounding towns were powered up on Wednesday, February 19, as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf dedicated the newly renovated Yandohun Micro-hydro in Kolahun District, Lofa County, the first stop on her 2014 nationwide tour.
A day earlier, she inaugurated an all-weather road connecting Vahun to the rest of Lofa County, to the relief of citizens there who had previously adapted to the poor road conditions by doing business primarily with their neighbors across the Liberian border with Sierra Leone.
The micro-hydro, was originally constructed with a capacity of 30 kilowatts (kw) in 1979 by a Peace Corps Volunteer named Gary Duncan, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Like much of Liberia’s other infrastructure, the mini-hydro was damaged during the civil war. In a phone interview, Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah disclosed that GOL has desired to build a number of mini hydros under the rural electrification project. He recalled that on May 21, 2008, President Sirleaf approved a request by then Lands, Mines & Energy Minister Eugene Shannon to establish a prototype Rural and Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) within the Ministry.
The Yandohun micro-hydro, which the World Bank funded to the tune of US$540,000 and was executed by the RREA, is a pilot project of the Government of Liberia’s rural electrification agenda. With just 10kw of its 60kw capacity, the Yandehun micro-hydro already powers 169 households in the towns of Yandohun, Dangalahun I and Dangalahun II, in Kolahun District.
Each connected household is required to pay as little as 200 Liberian Dollars per month for service.
At the dedication ceremony Wednesday, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia, Madam Inguna Dobraja, announced that the World Bank and African Development Bank have each committed US$25 million (managed by the World Bank) towards the expansion of Liberia’s rural electrification program.
President Sirleaf thanked the World Bank for its support and the RREA for executing the project. She also challenged the Yandohun citizens to protect the hydro. Twenty-five citizens of the benefitting towns have already been trained and employed to work on the micro-hydro project.
On Tuesday, February 18, President Sirleaf paid her first ever visit to Vahun since she took office in 2005. With Vahun inaccessible to the rest of the county, GOL contracted SSF Entrepreneur, a local road construction firm, to build an all-weather road, providing access to this once neglected area. The President also held a town hall meeting with the people of Vahun, who appreciated her for the new development in their city, listed other pressing requests including the need to upgrade the clinic there to a hospital as well as the need for a high school. They also added to their wish list the need for GOL to restore an existing road between Vahun to Duala in Monrovia via Bomi, which takes about 5 hours travel time when in good condition. The President spent the night in Vahun before proceeding to Voinjama the following morning.