Indigenous Female Solar Engineers Scaling up Solar Energy to Machakilha and Graham Creek Villages- Belize`s Most Rural and Remote Communities
Indigenous Female Solar Engineers Scaling up Solar Energy to Machakilha and Graham Creek Villages- Belize`s Most Rural and Remote Communities
In rural Toledo, several villages lie far from the national electricity grid, and costs of connecting to the national grid are prohibitive. The Government of Belize has committed to a future of 100% renewable energy for these communities by 2030. This project will build on the skills and experience of 1: Three Mayan ladies, Ms. Florentina Choco, Ms. Miriam Choc and Ms. Cristina Choc, who received training from the Barefoot College in India to build and repair small household solar systems; 2: Plenty Belize which has decades of experience in managing projects; 3: Mark Miller with a Masters in Engineering and decades of experience with renewable energy and solar power; 4: Abib Palma, a licensed well driller with over 10 years of experience with solar installation; 5: Ministry of Rural Development with experience and legal mandate to oversee village councils and their committees, including water boards and solar power boards. This project proposes to combine the strengths of these three trained technicians, with the strengths of Plenty Belize into a solar power technology hub for the Toledo District, known as Belize Power Connect Limited (BPCL).

Belize Power Connect Limited will be the central Hub for Solar system parts, supplies, tools, training and technical expertise in the Toledo District. Plenty Belize has registered Belize Power Connect Limited with the Companies Registry Office and set up basic infrastructure. This project will help BPCL to use a new and improved model for solar power in community development, using lessons learned and capacities built in prior projects and work. BPCL will ensure parts are locally available, technical expertise and assistance are available as needed, and that community members are trained to make best use of their solar systems and sustain them into the future. This project will provide capacity building to BPCL to carry out these tasks.

In this project, BPCL will assist the two most remote villages of Toledo – Graham Creek and Machakil Ha – with a variety of solar power solutions. The majority of homes will have solar lighting and phone charging systems; One or two systems in each village that can support a small shop with the ability to run a refrigerator / freezer; a medium size power system at the primary school in each village to improve education; and solar water pumping to provide potable water and improve health.

This project will support each village to form a power board to oversee operations and collect small monthly user fees to make the village solar system financially sustainable. Each village will provide space for community women to learn from the three solar technicians and be able to do basic trouble shooting and switch out parts.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Plenty International (Belize) Limited
Country:
Belize
Area Of Work:
CapDev
Climate Change Mitigation
Grant Amount:
US$ 150,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 30,900.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 126,450.00
Project Number:
BZE/SGP/OP7/Y1/CORE/CC/2020/09
Status:
Currently under execution
Project Characteristics and Results
Significant Participation of Indigenous Peoples
In this project, we will empower the people of Graham Creek and Machakil Ha. They are already familiar with the benefits of solar energy having some solar at their schools, and with Graham Creek having a solar water pumping system put in by Rotary and Plenty Belize. All households will be involved in capacity-building workshops from local experts to ensure that everyone understands the phenomenon of climate change and benefits of solar energy. The Village has formed a Power Board which has already carried out surveys to determine each household’s preference for size of solar system. Also, Residents have already agreed to pay a small fee for their power. The Power Board will administer the funds collected with oversight by the Ministry of Rural Development. At project end, residents will be surveyed to determine how satisfied they are with the project and with their electric systems. Residents of both villages will be part of this project from beginning to end.
Capacity - Building Component
Plenty International Belize Limited (Plenty Belize), is a registered NGO, whose mission is “Working together for the sustainable development of the people and environment of the Toledo District, using a community-based approach”. Plenty Belize has garnered a lot of experience working with villages to install basic utilities and services, with the most applicable to this project being two related projects with Barefoot College and GEF SGP in Santa Teresa and Santa Elena., as well as helping Graham Creek to set up a water board. Other experience includes having installed solar energy systems in three remote rural schools, established a solar internet café in San Benito Poite, and provided solar power to residents of San Jose. Plenty Belize has helped to establish local boards for village utility management. Plenty Belize will supervise project implementation, accounting and reporting. The project activities will be implemented in conjunction with BPCL,the villages of Graham Creek and Machakil Ha, two Mayan communities without road access where the principal activity is subsistence farming. (Note: Advocacy for road construction to Machakilha to be completed is ongoing. Road is currently ~50% complete.)
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Grantee Contact

Mr. Mark 6645243 or 6313191 Miller
Phone: 702-2198
Email: plentybz@btl.net
 

Address

Jose Maria Nunez St., Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District
LAC ,

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Leonel Requena
Phone:
(501) 822-2462
Email:

Address

UNDP Belize,3rd Floor, Lawrence Nicholas Building Complex ,P.O. Box 53,South Ring Road,
Belmopan, Central America