Energy for all

It sounds almost too simple: Install solar panels in remote homes and villages, and thereby improve the lives of residents. Solar power allows people to read at night, watch TV and heat clinics and schools. “A big change for a little effort,” says Robert Freling, director of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) that helps individuals and communities in developing countries get solar energy through -microfinancing.
 

Washington, D.C.-based SELF, active -since 1990, operates in more than 20 countries. Among them is Benin, where the underdeveloped, mainly agricultural economy is vulnerable because of extended droughts. There, SELF has developed a solar-powered water pump system. Working with a local non-governmental organization, it has installed pumps in 44 villages in the Kalalé district, enabling local people to irrigate arid farmland. 
 

The results have been astonishing. Thanks to the convenient, easy-to-install pumps, the community doubled its harvest during the dry season, and consequently doubled its fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Women, in -particular, reap benefits from development in the -region. “Women are earning $7.50 a week more now,” Freling says. “And they’re really being -empowered by taking the lead in this project. The people aren’t malnourished anymore, and when you walk across the land, you see -tomatoes growing where there used to be nothing. And there’s electricity, so the clinic can help more sick people, and people can cook in their homes.” 
 

Freling believes energy is an essential component of development and argues that the UN should add access to energy to its list of universal human rights. UN -Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proclaimed 2012 the -International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, a -campaign close to SELF’s heart. Says Freling, “I’ve seen people turn on the light for the first time. I want to give everyone in the world that experience.” 
 

 Find out more: self.org

Solution News Source

Energy for all

It sounds almost too simple: Install solar panels in remote homes and villages, and thereby improve the lives of residents. Solar power allows people to read at night, watch TV and heat clinics and schools. “A big change for a little effort,” says Robert Freling, director of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) that helps individuals and communities in developing countries get solar energy through -microfinancing.
 

Washington, D.C.-based SELF, active -since 1990, operates in more than 20 countries. Among them is Benin, where the underdeveloped, mainly agricultural economy is vulnerable because of extended droughts. There, SELF has developed a solar-powered water pump system. Working with a local non-governmental organization, it has installed pumps in 44 villages in the Kalalé district, enabling local people to irrigate arid farmland. 
 

The results have been astonishing. Thanks to the convenient, easy-to-install pumps, the community doubled its harvest during the dry season, and consequently doubled its fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Women, in -particular, reap benefits from development in the -region. “Women are earning $7.50 a week more now,” Freling says. “And they’re really being -empowered by taking the lead in this project. The people aren’t malnourished anymore, and when you walk across the land, you see -tomatoes growing where there used to be nothing. And there’s electricity, so the clinic can help more sick people, and people can cook in their homes.” 
 

Freling believes energy is an essential component of development and argues that the UN should add access to energy to its list of universal human rights. UN -Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proclaimed 2012 the -International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, a -campaign close to SELF’s heart. Says Freling, “I’ve seen people turn on the light for the first time. I want to give everyone in the world that experience.” 
 

 Find out more: self.org

Solution News Source

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