Luci√©rnaga Brings Clean Energy to Thousands

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

women's co-op Honduras
International Director Sebastian Africano discusses the benefits of solar
lighting with a member of the Lenca Women’s Ceramics Cooperative in rural
La Paz, Honduras.

Eighteen months ago, Trees, Water & People (TWP) launched a¬†program to sell solar photovoltaic lighting systems in Honduras under a grant¬†provided by the U.S. Department of State‚Äôs Energy and Climate Partnership of¬†the Americas. This program has been so successful that we will be expanding¬†to other Central American countries under the name Luci√©rnaga (‚Äúfirefly‚ÄĚ in¬†Spanish). By utilizing our 15 year old partnerships in the region, we can reach¬†people that have no access to electricity, helping them modernize, bring jobs¬†to the country‚Äôs rural areas, and also importantly, care for their natural world.

Our focus is on two types of solar lighting and cell phone charging¬†systems ‚Äď a strong, waterproof, portable LED lantern, and a wall-mounted,¬†lighting system with four LED bulbs that can be placed throughout the house.¬†Both products are inexpensive, but still provide high-quality lighting that can¬†replace the dirty kerosene lamps and candles that light every room in the home.

barefoot power solar lights_HondurasRural families in the region often group together into small agricultural¬†cooperatives ‚Äď organizations made up of dozens to thousands of small farmers that¬†combine their coffee, cacao, grain, timber, sugarcane, and other crops before they¬†take it to the market. Cooperative members also use the organization as a bank ‚Ästthey take credit from the co-op before planting season, and pay it back when they¬†sell their produce.

In places without banking services, cooperatives are a lifeline for rural families,
and a natural fit as a retailer for our solar lighting products. Since Trees, Water & People sells the lights and chargers to the cooperatives on consignment, there is little risk for the members and products can be purchased at a low-cost, on a payment plan. This distribution model allows us to offer quality lighting and cell phone charging products to unlit homes at affordable prices, improving the health and environment of these communities for many years to come.

The Luciérnaga project is another great example of how TWP is illuminating
opportunity and homes in Central America. However, we¬†couldn’t¬†do this without¬†our donors, as their support has truly brought positive change to the lives of the¬†people in these communities.

To learn more please visit our website or support this project by making a donation to help bring solar lights to families in Honduras.

Notes from the Field: Lighting Homes in “Last Mile” Communities

by Richard Fox, Executive Director

peru

I recently returned from visiting our friends at PowerMundo in Peru. What a great trip! ¬†PowerMundo and TWP are currently partnering on a project with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).¬† Together, we are distributing Cleantech solar products, primarily to “last mile” communities in rural areas of Central America and Peru, as part of our State Department funded project¬†Improving Access to Clean Energy in Latin America.

Cleantech solar products are a high quality, low-cost solution to energy poverty – illuminating homes and providing mobile phone charging at the household level. These innovative products reduce daily energy expenses and indoor air pollution associated with current alternatives for home lighting (such as kerosene), and they pay for themselves within 6 ‚Äď 18 months.

I am constantly inspired by the collaborations we have formed to help increase the deployment of these renewable, energy efficient technologies. This work is helping to reduce emissions in Latin America while increasing low carbon economic growth. A win-win-win for people, the environment, and local economies.

TWP’s International Director, Sebastian Africano, joined me with our Honduras partners, Ben Osorto and Ivan Caballero, to facilitate South-South collaboration between Central America and Peru while providing some project review and fiscal oversight duties. ¬†On top of meeting our business obligations, we were particularly glad to get up in the high mountainous Quechua towns in the Cusco area.

Richard Fox and Lisa Kubiske (center) visit with clean cookstove beneficiaries in Honduras.
Richard Fox and Lisa Kubiske (center) visit with clean cookstove beneficiaries in Honduras.

On this same trip, I also made my way to Central America, where I spent the afternoon with Lisa Kubiske, the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras.¬† After a delightful lunch, we visited with Tim Longworth at Zamarano University, ¬†located in the valley of the Yeguare River in Honduras.¬†Here, we saw the Stove Testing Facility at the university and demonstrated some of our Cleantech products to the Ambassador. While in the area, we also had the opportunity to visit some of our clean cookstove recipients and received valuable feedback about how the stoves performed in the most important facility – people’s homes!

Today, billions of people around the world are still without access to electricity in their homes, and billions more are still cooking over an open fire to cook every single meal. Regional cooperation and collaborations like this are helping to light homes around the world and bring safe cooking solutions to families. Stay tuned for more updates!

To learn more please visit our website.