Solar Forward

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solar kits

Number of Rural Solar Units: 500 units @ US$50 each

Total Amount to be raised: US$25,000

I was in Nepal after the Twin Earthquake in 2015 and a year later in April 2016 and realized an urgent need for sustainable energy in the rural areas especially those affected by the disastrous earthquake. I am working with 3 local partners; Lumbini World Peace Forum, Joint Youth and Student Platform and Rural Development Initiative for the initiation, implementation and monitoring of the project

We are aiming to raise an amount of US$ 25,000 for the cost and logistics of Rural Solar Energy Solution for 500 families in the Earthquake Affected community of Gorkha district of Nepal which was the epicenter for the disastrous 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake on 25 April, 2015.

Solar Forward Overview

Solar Forward is a social movement that will spread the use of sustainable energy in rural communities. This is an innovation model that we intend to prototype and test the impact in Nepal, promoting the use of solar energy in increasing income.
Partnering with charities and other responsible companies, Solar Forward will also create more awareness on solar energy and work with communities in rural areas to increase income.

The Problem
In Nepal, a lot of resources spent for the public has not much impact in many communities. In the wake of the disastrous earthquake, the money provided by the government to rebuild their homes is not enough, and the farmers currently live in temporary homes on their farms, further reducing their ability to earn income.
For communities that have started to rebuild their homes, they have exhausted all their savings, and with the fuel and energy shortage throughout the country, many do not have access to electricity. Furthermore, money provided to rebuild homes does not include any grants for provisioning installation of electricity.
The subsidy being provided by the government only covers the full height of the house not even the roofing costs. In this situation, the agencies are not even contemplating the fact that the survivors need electricity to light up their homes. 

The Solution
Solar Forward project plans to launch phase 1. A pilot to provide 500 solar panels to people living in rural communities to increase their income, so that they can earn more to rebuild their homes. 
Solar Forward wants to not only identify who to give these panels to, but also create a model where recipients can be empowered to help others as well.

Who?
The average family size in the region is 5 individuals so providing the solar energy solution to 500 families will directly benefit approximately 2500 survivors. The active recipients are people living in the rural areas who can benefit financially when they are provided a solar kit solution.
E.g. A farmer may also be a tailor, and if he has light, he can earn a few more dollars a day working at night.

What?
The solar kit consists of an 10W solar panel and 3 highly efficient LED bulbs and a controller which has a USB outlet and adapters for the user to charge various cell phones. The kit costs about US$50 (arriving in Nepal) and requires 8 - 10 hours to charge, providing 1 bulb 24 hours of energy or 3 bulbs 8 hours each.

Why?
These active recipients who can earn more will be asked if they will be interested to give other worthy recipients in their village if they were to make enough money from working extra hours at night. 
Instead of being passive recipients who get something for free, they will be tasked to earn more to allow others to benefit as well, giving them responsibility to strive to work harder so others can get the solar kit as well.

How?

  1. Solar Forward will identify the active recipients for the solar kits.
  2. These recipients will explain how the solar kit would benefit them, and estimate how long it would take for them to earn enough EXTRA income to buy a solar kit for other deserving recipients in their village.
  3. Solar Forward will record the video and monitor the progress of the recipient.
  4. Solar Forward will consolidate the earnings from the recipients and bring in more panels for others to benefit.
  5. Post project interview will be conducted to find out what went wrong, what made it successful, what the team learned from the project and how it can be better.


When?
Solar Forward intends to start this in May 2016, 1 year after the Nepal Earthquake. The implementation will take 4 months.

Goals:
We hope the recipients would be empowered to support others in their village with the same solar solution they received, thus paying it forward. This also make them active recipients giving them responsibility and a sense of purpose and dignity.

We want to promote a new approach of supporting marginalized communities. A new mindset to change the current "Donor - Recipient" model to one that is "Conscious buyer - Generator of wealth"


We also hope to change the mindsets of these communities that they can be a positive change and they can use renewable energy to make more income and empower others. 

We will consolidate what we learn and create a report with our findings and share this new model with other communities interested to learn.

Currently, we are working with World Vision and Nepal Innovation Lab, trying to get a grant for the report. 100% of the funds raised will go towards buying the Solar Kits at Cost and the logistics involved to bring them to the recipients in the villages.

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We raised a total of $1000 from Solar Forward which will provide 20 units to rural farmers and provide them with sustainable energy.

We will provide the results of Solar Forward as we get the data.

So far, the panels are getting shipped to Nepal as I am typing this.

 

-- Robin Low

 

 

 

 

 

 

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