It’s well above 30 degrees Celsius under the Nicaraguan sun, and the rainy season is weeks away. When the wind blows across the parched ground the air fills with a fine yellow hue.
Not long ago, the people of this off-the-grid Central American community had to wake up before dawn and walk four kilometers to line up for water – then walk back. Fortunately, that’s an increasingly distant memory now, as we gather to officially inaugurate a solar water well electrification project completed late last year.
“We were thirsty a lot but now we have the well,” said part of a Spanish poem written for and read at the celebration by a young boy.
This solar project, and others like it, is made possible, in part, by the energy4everyone Foundation that works with the North American energy industry and third-party project delivery partners to improve access to affordable, sustainable, and reliable energy in the developing world.
The energy4everyone Foundation has helped about 80,000 people in Ghana, Tanzania, Peru, Nicaragua and Costa Rica since it was created in 2009, and is a collaborating partner in the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015), a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (UN).
World Water Day, observed on Sunday, March 22, is celebrated annually by the UN as a way of recognizing that water is at the core of sustainable development.
This particular well electrification project, in the Chinandega region of Nicaragua, was led by Canadian charity Change for Children as part of its ongoing water project with local partner organization, Centro Humboldt. It was the third such project funded by the energy4everyone Foundation, with two more just announced.
A mother, who is one of three women now responsible for managing the well, tells me that the local children are happier and able to attend school regularly now that the burden of collecting water from afar has been lifted from the community.
When I speak to North Americans about sustainable energy solutions in the developing world, the first thing that often comes to people’s minds is solar technology for lighting.
And with 1.3 billion people in the world without access to electricity, lighting is a critically important use. Clean light after dark improves indoor air quality by displacing kerosene. It also reduces costs and extends the day for productive activities, including time for children to study. That’s why the energy4everyone Foundation has supported lighting projects the countries where we focus.
Still, many people are unaware of the numerous other benefits that light-based technologies bring to communities in the developing world. During IYL 2015, we’re celebrating the diverse ways that light-based technologies are improving lives in the developing world.
Thanks to light technology, on this World Water Day in the International Year of Light, one Nicaraguan community has transformed from a departure point to a destination – drawing other people in the region who now travel to get their water from this solar-powered well.
Chris Meyer is the Acting Executive Director of the energy4everyone Foundation, a Canadian charity that works with the North American energy industry and third-party project delivery partners to improve access to affordable, sustainable and reliable energy in the developing world. This month, Chris travelled to Nicaragua where the foundation supports solar water well and clean cook stove projects. Since it was founded in 2009, the energy4everyone Foundation has helped about 80,000 people in Ghana, Tanzania, Peru, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. energy4everyone is a collaborating partner in the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015.