Delivering quality health care and providing food and water security to the people in Haiti are top priorities for SELF. Solar energy can help achieve these goals, and SELF has been working with its partners, local communities, and the government of Haiti to improve the well-being of the country.
After the 2010 earthquake, SELF and Partners In Health teamed to develop the Rebuilding Haiti Initiative to fully power eight health centers to help improve the delivery of health care services to thousands of people. SELF has also installed 100 solar powered streetlights in tent camps to increase safety, and with NRG Energy, Inc. and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, solar energy is being installed to power a fish farm, 20 schools, a Solar Market Garden™, and a microenterprise center.
Solar energy has an enormous, yet largely untapped, potential to increase food security by providing a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to pump water for irrigation from nearby rivers and underground aquifers.
In partnership with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Association pour le Developpement Economique Social et Culturel de Kalalé(ADESCA), SELF installed three of its Solar Market Gardens™ (SMG), an innovative, unique solar-powered drip irrigation system, for women farming collectives in Dunkassa and Bessassi, two villages in the arid, northern part of the country.
A two-year study conducted by Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Environment department appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that SELF’s SMGs, “significantly augments both household income and nutritional intake, particularly during the dry season, and is cost effective compared to alternative technologies.”
With support from Acción Social (a governmental agency in Colombia) and Microsoft, SELF conducted a week long site assessment to determine the feasibility of deploying solar electric systems for the indigenous Arhuaco, Kogi and Wiwa communities in the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern Colombia.
The project, a part of the Cordon Ambiental y Tradicional de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta initiative led by Acción Social, is intended to power the health and educational facilities in the villages, along with community lighting systems at select locations.
SELF’s assessment confirmed that installing solar power systems at all of the sites is technically feasible, and that adequate and acceptable space exists for the location of the PV arrays and battery structures. It’s anticipated that the systems will power new energy-efficient laptop computers and lighting in the schools, and high-efficiency fans, lighting and vaccine refrigerator/freezers at the health facilities, including dental equipment at one clinic.