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ECPA Initiative in Action! Photo Blog on Solar Pv Systems in Nicaragua!

The mountains of Nicaragua are beautiful, wet, and isolated. Without a doubt, Nicaragua is from volcanoes to lakes and from wildlife to biodiversity, Nicaragua can’t complain about its internal beauty. Yet despite all these assets, various parts of Nicaragua are still making the long journey towards the development of more resources. One of every 3.3 people in Nicaragua does not have access to electric energy, which limits every aspect of life.

These rural areas offer charming views, yet their remoteness makes reaching these areas- and the people that inhabit them- a difficult task.

This photo blog tells the story of an ECPA initiative that crossed mountains, walked hours, and pushed through heavy rain to reach motivated communities ready to engage in a life changing project.

Yader Barrera, project manager of this initiative, takes us along for the installation of this project through his exclusive photographs of Las Jaguas, Orocuina, and El Espinal.

This ECPA Project, executed by the Universidad Nacional Agragria UNA, Nicaragua, has as its goal to “contribute to the improvement of quality of life in the rural population, through the use of solar photovoltaic power as sustainable development, and to strengthen capabilities in the realm of renewable energies.” The benefiting communities will be the micro watersheds of Las Jaguas, Orocuina, and El Espinal.

The project of Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean is executed by the Secretariat for Integral Development in the Department of Sustainable Development (DSD) in the OAS, under the framework of ECPA.

This initiative has a work plan of 11 months, which started in April 2013 and continues until January of 2014. A total of 60 families were selected as photovoltaic beneficiaries, and the project includes trainings for 20 people. A total of 250 people are directly benefiting from this initiative.

The Mountain of Challenges 
The biggest challenge in the project was actually reaching the communities. Yader and his team had to wait for rains to pass before they could drive through the mountains heavy with precipitation. The bulky nature of the equipment meant that double traction vehicles were the only option for transport, and the houses are far apart from each other. It was a mountainous, one hour walk from each home to the next. 

  

The Local Communities 
Choosing the beneficiaries was a careful and well-planned process. Every beneficiary was selected through a combination of quantitative methods, focus groups, interviews, and group work. Those selected completed the following requirements:
  • Low income home that could not otherwise afford a solar panel
  • Full ownership of home and property
  • Home to school age children
  • Demonstrate positive attitude for community engagement
  • Disposition to be part of community organization to have savings account for panel maintenance and continuation of project benefits    
  

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The benefiting communities were very consciously chosen as places showing a vested interest in working together to maintain the effects of the project. The most crucial piece in this puzzle is not just the solar panels, but the actual training of the community! 20 trainings took place so that the community could install the panels themselves, fix them when need be, and be fully aware of the functions.
  

 

LASTING EFFECTS

Providing electricity in these rural areas is more than lights: it means a change in lifestyle, schedules, and most importantly, opportunities. Bringing renewable energies means that this change does not have to be harmful, or at the cost of something greater. In this initiative, 250 people are directly benefiting from the outcomes.

Three most immediate changes: 
  • students can study past daylight hours to increase their level of education
  • less pollution, as the past burning of pine wood leaves the homes and air full of soot
  • less affect on the forest, since all 3 communities were using pine wood for light
 
For more information on this project, visit the full initiative description

Contact: Engineer Yader Barrera

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