Peace & Security Project
Solar Power! Project
What: Our Solar Power! Project launched in 2009 in collaboration with the Barefoot College in India, and it aims to address the issue of limited access to electricity by empowering rural communities across Africa with the skills to provide low-cost and sustainable electricity for themselves.
Why: Many rural communities with which we partner are not connected to their country’s electrical infrastructure. Without access to electricity community members’ productivity is limited by the hours of daylight.
How: Through the Solar Power! Project, we sponsor women from rural Africa to attend the Barefoot College in India, where they complete a six-month training program in solar electrical engineering. The comprehensive training provides participants with the knowledge and skills to install, maintain, and repair solar panels.
Back in their home villages, each solar engineer installs one solar unit in at least 50 homes, providing each family with a fixed lamp, a bright solar lantern, an LED flashlight, and a plug for charging mobile phones.
Each participant also trains women from neighboring rural communities in solar electrical engineering, spreading the impact of the program and providing each engineer with a means of income.
Who: To date, we have facilitated the training of 25 women as solar engineers, of which 13 are from Senegal, 5 from Guinea-Bissau, 5 from Djibouti and 2 from The Gambia. These women are bringing electricity and opportunities for community development to their home communities. They have also trained a total of 58 women in how to install and maintain solar units – 28 in Senegal, 13 in Guinea-Bissau, 15 in Djibouti and 2 in The Gambia.
Impact & Sustainability: The Solar Power! Project provides rural communities with access to a clean and renewable energy source, allowing for greater environmental sustainability. The project also allows women to emerge as leaders and entrepreneurs in their communities. Through their training, they build a marketable skill set and the ability to share their knowledge with others. Using solar lamps also has long-term positive impacts on children’s education, allowing them to study in the evenings, and on maternal health, by providing light for women giving birth at night. Tostan has also noted a reduction in fires previously caused by handmade lamps and candles, a general improvement of community health due to reduced burning of harmful fossil fuels, and a rise in community security.
Countries of Implementation