October 22 2015

Solar Power For The Rural Poor In Nepal

Geeta Bhujel lives in a small isolated village of the Kavre district in Nepal. She gets up every morning at 4 am, cleans the house and the cow shed, makes tea, and prepares dal-bhat (rice and lentil soup) for her children before they go to school.

Before Karuna-Shechen’s intervention in her village in 2015, Geeta depended on a small kerosene lamp to do all this work before dawn. “The lamp wasn’t very bright and the fumes smelled terrible,” remembers Geeta.  She was also very anxious about letting her children use the lamp, as it could easily spill and burn down the house.

bhujel 3In May 2015, Karuna-Shechen electrified Geeta’s village. The installation of 210 solar home lighting systems has transformed the life of this small himalayan community. The system is simple and very portable. The battery can last for up to 4 years and can be easily replaced after that.

It is estimated that more than half of Nepal’s population do not have electricity in their home and, instead, rely on kerosene oil lamps and wood fires, which are both fire and health hazards.

Replacing kerosene lamps with solar lights not only mitigates global warming — it is also a brighter, safer and healthier alternative to kerosene. Children can put it on without any adult supervision and safely do their homework after dark. “The light from solar system is very bight,” rejoices Geeta. “It has made our life a lot easier.”

The solar electrification of Geeta’s village was carried out by two women selected from within the community and trained by Karuna-Shechen in September 2014. They learned how to install and maintain solar home lighting systems.

Before the installation, they conducted a house-to-house survey to determine which households would qualify for subsidized home lighting systems. Poorer households with school-going children, such as Geeta’s, were given priority.

Karuna-Shechen also assists the newly-trained local solar engineers in setting up and operating solar repair and maintenance workshops.

As part of its post-earthquake intervention, Karuna-Shechen has expanded this very successful Solar power program to a further 12 rural communities that were devastated by the 2015 earthquakes. We will train two women from each village who will then install and maintain 100 solar home lighting systems in their respective villages.