We recently completed the installation of new solar systems to power six primary schools and one junior high school in the Boucan Carré district of Haiti’s Central Plateau. Close to 2,000 students in the communities of Georges, Vyet, Bois-Joli, Pouillée, Pagès, Bellevue, and La Chaussée will now be able to attend schools with lights and computers powered by solar electricity, giving them new opportunities in life that they may never have dreamed about!
Eighteen new solar powered street lights have been installed on the roads between Dufailly and Carrefour Georges, and Domond and Boucan Carré itself. Two others were installed in Sivol, an isolated village deep in the mountains – it’s so remote that there isn’t a road leading to the community, so we had to carry all of the equipment by hand. All of the lights will help to provide security in places that are considered to be dangerous, such as high crime areas and along a fast-flowing river.
The very first Solar Market Garden™ in Haiti is a success! The system we designed and installed is located in Corporant and managed by Zanmi Agrikol, a sister organization of Partners In Health. For the last three months we’ve been monitoring its progress, and it’s been successfully growing okra, tomatoes, eggplant, and cabbage. The ability for such high-value vegetables to be grown during the dry season in Haiti will greatly contribute to ensuring year-round food security!
Collaborating with NRG Energy, Inc., we completed The Sun Lights the Way: Brightening Boucan Carré project, by installing solar systems for a Solar Market Garden™, a fish farm, and 20 schools to help improve the education of 6,000 students. The project was funded by NRG’s $1 million commitment made through the Clinton Global Initiative and a $500,000 pledge from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
The solar systems are helping to improve the quality of education for more than 6,000 Haitian students living in remote areas of the country by providing the electricity needed to power lights, communication systems, laptop computers and other school equipment. The Solar Market Garden™ will help to increase the production of crops at the Lashto Zanmi Agrikol farm by powering the water pumps for a drip irrigation system, and the solar array at the Lashto Fish Farm is resulting in a dramatic increase in fish production by powering aerators for six fish tanks.
The installations at the Lashto Fish Farm and at the first school were completed earlier this year and were toured by President Bill Clinton, Bob Freling, our executive director, and David Crane, CEO of NRG.
Haiti continues to be the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, still suffering from the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake of January 2010. Delivering quality health care and providing food and water security to the public are top priorities for us. 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.
SELF first teamed with Partners In Health (PIH) in 2006 to demonstrate how incorporating solar energy systems into their operations would enable the organization to improve the delivery of its health care services while helping to secure critical power loads and reduce fuel-based generator run times at the facilities it operated within. Building upon the initial installations of photovoltaic (PV) systems in Rwanda and Lesotho, the partnership was extended in 2009 to include projects in Haiti.
SELF completed preliminary assessments at ten of PIH’s health facilities there, and planned to implement 10 kW systems at each clinic. In August 2009, in the remote, mountainous central highlands of Haiti, SELF implemented a 10 kW solar system at PIH’s Zanmi Lasante clinic located in Boucan Carré.
In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in January 2010, SELF and PIH reassessed their original plans and decided to implement larger PV systems averaging 17 kW in size, a 70 percent increase in capacity, at seven health centers to increase the quality and amount of critical medical services needed to help with the nation’s recovery. As a result, a $1.1 million, 100 kW plan referred to as the “Rebuilding Haiti Initiative” was developed to achieve this goal.
Since 2010, over 75 kW of solar power has been installed at five health facilities, and the final installations are underway at the two remaining facilities in Petit Riviere and Verettes.
In addition to our work with PIH, through the summer and into fall of 2010, support from both the public and private sectors continued to advance SELF’s work in Haiti. The Inter-American Development Bank provided more than $1 million to SELF to provide solar powered street lighting for two transition camps in Port-au-Prince, and to install solar systems at 12 health clinics on the south coast of Haiti. In October 2011, SELF installed 100 street lights in two tent camps providing security to the residents simply by the light shining through the darkness.