January 2010 Archives

Solar-powered drip irrigation systems significantly enhance household incomes and nutritional intake of villagers in arid sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new Stanford University study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study found that solar-powered pumps installed in remote villages in the West African nation of Benin provide a cost-effective way of delivering much-needed irrigation water, particularly during the long dry season.

Stanford University logo.JPG




We partnered with Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment to evaluate the impact of our Solar Market Garden in Benin's Kalalé district. 

I blogged about the our involvement in Benin in an earlier post titled - Food Security: Using Solar Power to Transform Rural Agriculture in Benin's Kalalé District - noting how we were first contacted by Dr. Mamoudou Setamou, a native of Kalalé.  Our hopes for Benin were also documented by Yann Arthus-Bertrand in the The End of Oil, a recent episode of his "Earth from Above" series.

While the results of the project are very encouraging, I want to emphasize that they are just one part, an important one, of course, of SELF's Solar Integrated Development Model.

The Solar Integrated Development (SID) Model developed by SELF is based on three principles:

SELF Help

Solar electrification projects are chosen by the people in rural communities as full participants, acting on their own behalf. The villagers determine priorities as well as the project scope.

SELF Reliance

Solar systems are purchased by villagers through micro-credit financing. Each family pays for its own system and participates in the ownership of community systems, spreading development funds further to help more people.

SELF Determination

Villagers, both men and women, are trained to install, maintain and replicate their solar systems. In addition, a store of spare parts is provided as part of the initial project funding. Local partners are assisted in establishing a supply chain for continuing purchase of spare parts.

Each project flows from the needs and leadership of the community. The community is committed to and empowered by full participation in all project phases including design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Solar Integrated Development model poster FINAL 6.29.2009 copy.png

SELF partners with government, corporations and non-governmental organizations to develop and promote additional technologies and systems such as solar-powered micro-irrigation, crop-processing equipment, internet connectivity, telemedicine and commercial applications to help broaden the scope and impact of solar-generated electricity.

A solar electric system provides 20 years worth of energy at a fixed cost. Utilizing the latest technologies, projects are implemented with the most reliable and cost-effective equipment.

Beyond providing the electrical energy source, our Solar Integrated Development Model provides targeted applications, tools and hardware such as LED lights, sewing machine motors, oil expellers, vaccine refrigerators, water pumps, and computers, often through microfinance loans, so that community members have the tools to turn electrical energy into economic empowerment . The goal is not simply that people have electricity; it is that they immediately benefit from having electricity.

SELF's solar installation has made a dramatic impact on the health and quality of life for the people of Bessassi and Dunkassa in northern Benin. But there is much more work to be done. While the immediate next step is to drill wells in each of these two villages - ensuring access to clean, safe drinking water - there are 42 more villages anxiously waiting for solar-powered drip irrigation. SELF conducted site assessments in August 2009 and the wells were drilled in December 2009, with solar-powered pumps scheduled to be installed in March 2010. But we still need to raise money for drip irrigation systems for the additional villages.

Last, but certainly not least, SELF has promised to provide whole-village solar electric systems to each of the rural farming communities in Kalalé. By bringing solar energy to power their schools, homes, health clinics, street lights and microenterprise centers, we can empower Beninese women and their families to lift themselves out of poverty, ensuring a brighter future for all.

Please help us continue empowering the women of Africa, and bring hope to them and their children.

SEE ALSO:

- Saving Sub-Sahara Africa a Drip at a Time Miller-Mccune

- Solar-powered irrigation improves diet and income in rural sub-Sahara DNA


Last week I wrote a short article at Renewable Energy World on what we in the renewable energy community can do to help Haiti. Here’s what I said about our immediate plans:

renewworld.gifThe Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is already using the sun to power health care in Haiti and is primed to expand its work with Partners In Health (PIH), the NGO co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer. When the earthquake struck on January 12, SELF had 13 kW of photovoltaic (PV) panels in a warehouse in Haiti, waiting to be installed in two PIH clinics next month.  The plan now is to divert those 13 kW to emergency field hospitals that are being set up near Port-au-Prince, the area hardest hit by the quake.

This, by the way, is just the beginning. Even before the earthquake, we were executing on our plan:

We have worked with PIH since 2006 to electrify health clinics in Africa and, just five months ago, electrified a clinic for the organization in Haiti’s Boucan Carre, three hours from Port-au-Prince.  This is the first of 10 PIH centers we plan to electrify in Haiti through the SELF-PIH Solar Health Care Partnership.
Now, we see a much greater need and of course we feel a much greater sense of urgency to help the community at large as well. We are now working on a far bigger blueprint to help Haiti back on its feet, and will announce details as these plans become field initiatives.

Last year, SELF created its Array of Life program to partner with companies donating solar equipment and/or funding to support this work.  Sunpower, Dow Corning, Good Energies, SolarWorld, Solar Liberty, Bosch Solar, Solar Outdoor Lighting and Trojan Batteries are among those already stepping forward.  We need more to join us.

My hope is that you won’t allow the tragedy in Haiti to pass us by without getting involved. And as I said in the article, let’s rebuild Haiti, power it with renewable energy and show the world that hope for a sustainable planet can be a reality.  Amidst the global financial crisis, staggering global rates of unemployment and failed Copenhagen talks, the renewable energy industry remains a beacon of hope for the future. 

Together we can help Haiti light the way.

Stand With Haiti

As the world mobilizes to respond to the crisis in Haiti, our partner, Partners In Health (PIH), is on the ground making arrangements to set up a field hospital. SELF is diverting 13 kW of solar panels to the temporary facility to provide electricity for critical lighting and emergency medical treatment. However, much more help is needed.

PIH headquarters reports that:

Over the past 18 hours, PIH staff in Boston and Haiti have been working to collect as much information as possible about the conditions on the ground, the relief efforts taking shape, and all relevant logistics issues in order to respond efficiently and effectively to the most urgent needs in the field. At the moment, PIH’s Chief Medical Officer is on her way to Haiti, where she will meet with [their] leadership and head physicians, who are already working to ensure PIH’s coordinated relief efforts leveraging the skills of more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants who work at [PIH’s] sites.

If you wish to contribute to the relief effort in Haiti, we encourage you to support PIH’s work on the ground for immediate assistance to the survivors.

Donate to PIH >>



Paul Farmer and Bob in Haiti

While now is the time to support disaster relief, SELF will continue to work with PIH and the people of Haiti in the reconstruction and continuing economic development of their communities.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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