Love is finding the energy to help others.
On this Valentines Day, many across Haiti are blocked in their homes and isolated in small towns as protestors continue "Operation Lock" which is effectively blocking transit and commerce throughout the country. There is growing tension as fuel, food, and clean water supplies run low.
Protestors have reason to feel exasperated. Inflation has surged, making basic staples - many of which are imported - unaffordable for much of the population. Fuel shortages, and a growing outrage around development funds missing from the government coffers are driving louder and louder calls for the president's resignation.
Love takes many forms. Sometimes it demands protest. Sometimes it requires patience.
Though some are facing challenging circumstances in Port-au-Prince, most of the EarthSpark and Enèji Pwòp team members are safe (though stuck) in Les Anglais where the solar-powered microgrid is steadily providing energy to the town, undeterred by the national crisis.
We're happy today to share a new team photo of our growing team as well as a reflection from an independent consultant who recently came to assess our work. In the face of challenges and uncertainty, Love persists. If Love is finding the energy to help others, we will continue building it.
Happy Valentines Day from the EarthSpark team.
Beyond clichés - The Case for Feminist Electrification in Haiti
By Ash Sharma. Published Feb 1, 2019 on LinkedIn here.
The much vaunted phrase “win-win” doesn’t begin to capture the Haitian rural electrification project I have recently been evaluating. The Earth Spark mini-grid project implemented through local affiliate Enèji Pwòp (Clean Energy in the Haitian Creole language) combines energy access with energy transition, promotes the concept of Feminist Electrification http://www.earthsparkinternational.org/blog/feminist-electrification, builds rural livelihoods and addresses energy poverty reduction. You can add to the mix a dash of avoided deforestation, reduction of indoor air pollution and an increase food security through the electrification of on-site post-harvest processing.
The natural beauty of Haiti and the warmth of its people masks an underlying lack of economic opportunity, a worsening environment (evidenced by lack of waste and sanitation provision in the southern peninsula), poorly developed transport infrastructure, climatic vulnerability and the ever present risk of weather related disaster.
It is against this backdrop, that Enèji Pwòp has implemented an UNFCCC award winning solar minigrid system. I visited two towns where solar arrays had been deployed, met local consumers, institutions and microbusinesses, and witnessed at first hand the development of local enterprise and realisation of potential. Through retailing small, clean energy products and developing micro-grids, the social enterprise has mainstreamed gender considerations into its business practice. In Les Anglais, it has prioritized reaching out to women for training as clean energy and micro-grid entrepreneurs, as customers, and employees, with women as promoters of the grid (“ambassadors”) who play a key role in reaching out to other women and energy vendors.
Haiti’s critically low level of access to electricity (around 10% of rural areas) seriously hampers growth and poverty reduction endeavours. By aiming to build an additional 20 mini-grids in off-grid communities in 3 years, Enèji Pwòp expects to directly serve approximately 35,000 additional people through approximately 6000 new grid connections. The project is learning by doing in a difficult environment successfully experimenting with smart meters, cloud based customer management and billing systems, and innovative cost reduction strategies. Truly impressive work from a talented and committed team.
Keep up the great work!
(This post is included here with permission from the author. Additional comments and Mr. Sharma's other posts are on LinkedIn here.)
While our projects expand so must the EarthSpark family. A couple of weeks ago Enèji Pwòp’s Les Anglais team and brand new Tiburon team met with two-thirds of the EarthSpark team to kick off 2019 with soaring spirits.
Despite the unrest gridlocking the country, we are grateful to work together and share our love for the communities we work with.