Not having access to electricity, life in Ambakivao, Madagascar was dark. A group of grandmothers decided to change that, bringing light to their community by becoming the village’s first solar engineers. With the help of the World Wildlife Fund, they swapped petroleum lamps for solar panels and successfully brought electricity to more than 200 families in their village. Now, they’re leading the renewable revolution in rural Africa.
From Great Big Story, meet Andrianambinina Yollande and The Grandmas Leading Africa’s Solar Revolution. After six months of training at The Barefoot College in India, they not only build and maintain this innovation within their communities, but they also teach their solar engineering skills. Via Vice:
Women—especially mature women—were very eager to share everything they’d learned with others in their communities. And… they were rooted in the communities…”
Out of the solar engineer training workshops has grown a full-fledged shipping business of solar parts, also distributed, delivered, and installed by the women. As the solar engineers have been integral in the installation and in some cases the design of the hardware, they are able to repair and maintain the systems.
According to the WWF, “Individual households in the villages spend $6-$9 on kerosene and batteries each month, but the new solar units will cost only $1.50-$5 per month. Using solar power instead of fuelwood will also lower pressure on local natural resources.” And it’s healthier for the villagers and the environment.
As an aside, the mud-like covering seen on one woman’s face is likely masonjoany, a traditional sandalwood and pine nut oil sunscreen/facemask that’s used as UV ray protection and ceremonial decoration.Next: How to make a Moser Lamp: 60 watts of free, natural light, fourth graders create a solar powered classroom, The Stanford Solar Car Project: Racing on Sunshine, a documentary, and Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba story.