Throughout India there are many rural villages that are completely removed from the grid. With no source of power for cooking, light, and heating they currently must rely on firewood, kerosene or diesel for fuel. Now green jobs are blossoming throughout these remote areas as the Orissa Tribal Empowerment & Livelihoods Programme trains women and youth to become barefoot solar engineers. This brilliant initiative provides a bright future for the semi-literate and illiterate rural poor by teaching them to harness the sun through the construction of photovoltaic systems and solar powered lanterns.

sustainable design, green design, barefoot solar engineers, renewable energy, solar lanterns, social design, dfid, Orissa Tribal Empowerment & Livelihoods Programme

The initiative makes a lot of sense – rather than dropping down solar technology from above, teach those who will use it how it works and they’ll be able to repair it, will pass the information on to others in need, and will benefit from the green jobs that are created. The Orissa Tribal Empowerment & Livelihoods Programme (funded by the UK’s Department for International Development) also stands to increase the availability of renewable energy, reduce dependence on volatile fossil fuels, and cut down on the use of dangerous kerosene lamps.

Talsa Miniaka, Pulka Wadeka, Minakshi Diwan, and Bundei Hidreka are four barefoot solar engineers in Tinginapu, in the Eastern Ghats of Orissa. Thanks to their training they now have a contract to build 3,000 solar-powered lanterns for schools and other institutions. These lanterns enable students to study after dark without using kerosene lamps and have encouraged local businesses by enabling villagers to work at night from their homes.

+ Orissa Tribal Empowerment & Livelihoods Programme

Via Guardian UK

Photo Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith for DFID