SELF designed its Whole Village electrification program to bring clean energy to rural communities in the developing world. Food security, access to water, and income generation all relate to agricultural development, which led SELF to create a solar-powered drip irrigation model as the lead application of village-level solar technology. SELF piloted this model in Kalalé by installing three SMGs as described in Section II. The successful results from this Pilot Phase enabled SELF to plan and raise funds for this second, Validation Phase, which combines the installation of eight more SMGs with the solar electrification of community services in the two villages where SMGs were previously installed. The first, post-SMG stage of Whole Village (WV) electrification includes drilling the wells and powering the pumps to deliver drinking water and electrifying the schools and clinics. Such steps will be followed by electrifying a microenterprise center and Internet kiosk and installing street, market, and household lighting.
This work will take place over a two-year period, as described in the following section. SELF only works in partnership with local leaders and with 'end-use' specialists, such as horticultural experts and health care providers. With regard to monitoring and evaluation, technical system performance will be monitored by the on-site project manager and through remote technology, which enables SELF personnel anywhere in the world to check performance and recommend adjustments. Stanford and ICRISAT also have committed to continue participating in the project and will report on SMG results. SELF and Stanford will closely monitor social and other impacts of village electrification, and the ongoing, on-site presence of project-partner personnel will ensure proper assessments are undertaken to inform subsequent phases of the work.
The following implementation steps will be undertaken in this, the second phase of SELF's overall Whole Village electrification project for Kalalé. After each step, the time period (calendar-year quarters: 1-4 for 2011, and 5-8 for 2012) is indicated. Assessment, design, and installation of the various WV components will be more complicated than those for the single-component SMGs. We will coordinate all assessments and installations to the extent possible, and anticipate at least two assessment and two installation trips.
Activity and Timelines
Site and facility needs assessments (to refine preliminary projections): Q1 to Q5
System design and sizing (to create the most efficient and affordable system): Q1-Q2 to Q5-Q6
Equipment acquisition and shipping; Q2-Q3 to Q6-Q7
Installation, including transport of supervisory and technical labor: Q2-Q4 to Q6-Q7
Training existing and new local personnel (to assist in the installation and to help operate the systems subsequently): Q2-Q4 to Q5-Q8
Monitoring the systems (for how they are used, the results produced, and the maintenance needed and provided): Q3-forward
Accounting for and evaluation of system operations and results: Q4 to Q6, Q8
Reporting to donors and general outreach via website, newsletter, conferences: Q4, ongoing and Q8, ongoing
Systems Operations and Maintenance: Ongoing upon installation
Deliverables: At the conclusion of the project, in addition to installing approximately 36 kilowatts of solar energy systems distributed across eight SMGs and two Whole Villages as described, SELF will have:
- Built local capacity to maintain and operate the systems, including hiring a full-time project manager to be based in Benin;
- Refined the training component of the project to reflect local community needs for such services;
- Further refined both SMG and WV models in preparation for replication and scaling throughout the rest of Kalalé and beyond; and
- Developed a strategy for Phase III of the project (e.g., how many more SMGs and WVs in Kalalé will be installed, in what time period, and with what form of financing)
- The number of self-employed or new job opportunities is the 400 people directly affected by the project.
- The 280 farmers are the women in the farming collectives (eight times an estimated 35 women) who will operate the new SMGs and receive ongoing horticultural training.
- The 1,140 women and girls supported are the women farmers (380) and two of their daughters (760), who either will have less water hauling to do or will be able to attend school as a result of the income their mothers earn and the less water hauling that will need to be done.
- The 150 children to gain access to education is an estimate of the number of children whose parents (specifically, the mothers) will use part of their net income from the SMGs to pay the school fees required to send their children to school. This figure is based on the experience at prior SMG households, where parents planning to send their children to school rose from four percent to 22 percent after one year of operation [280 new households; three school-aged children per household (840); 18 percent (22 percent less four percent) of 840 = 151, hence 150].
- 750 is the estimated number of school-aged children in Bessassi and Dunkassa whose educations will improve because their schools become solar electrified.
- A minimum of 60 girls are estimated to gain access to schools through encouragement of their mothers to send their daughters as well as their sons to school.
- All 400 direct beneficiaries in the program - farmers, masons, electricians, and local development organization personnel - are receiving skills-based training.
Environment and Energy
- The number of clean jobs to be created (2) is the estimated full-time employment specifically associated with maintaining the solar electric systems in the 10 villages.
- Increased access to health is estimated to reach twice the population of the two villages whose health clinics will be solar electrified (twice 8,700 equals 17,400). This estimate is based on the catchment areas of remote rural health clinics being much larger than the immediate population surrounding the facility.
- The 8,700 residents of Dunkassa and Bessassi will benefit from having access to the drinking water made available by the three new solar water wells.
1.6 billion people in the world live 'off the grid' with no access to electricity or modern energy services. They live in energy poverty, which Tom Friedman identified as one of humanity's five global challenges in his book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded (and Friedman credits learning about energy poverty from SELF's Executive Director, Bob Freling). Their impoverished rural communities rely on subsistence farming as the dominant yet inadequate livelihood. Poor access to water and poor irrigation prevent these farmers from growing sufficient crops to fight malnutrition or sell enough produce to generate the income that would enable them to start their climb out of poverty. While drip irrigation is a proven and increasingly accessible solution, it only works if there is reliable and sufficient power to pump water. Diesel generators would be the conventional tool for providing pumping power, but they break down, pollute, and are costly to operate, particularly over the long term. Solar-powered drip irrigation offers a new solution, not only for improving food security but also for demonstrating solar power's viability for meeting many rural needs for electricity. Clinics need it to keep vaccines refrigerated, light treatment and operating rooms, and run laboratory equipment. Schools need lights for classrooms, power to run computers, and the means to connect to the Internet. Drinking water wells need power for pumping, and microenterprise centers need electricity to support the use of sewing machines, razors, cell phone chargers, saws, welding equipment, and grinding and milling machines. Outdoor lighting can make streets safer and enable additional evening activities.
SELF has been conducting solar rural electrification projects for two decades. Its installations in nine countries over the last ten years power all of the above services. SELF launched its 'Whole Village' project - of which 'Scaling Solar: From Irrigation to the Whole Village' is the second phase - in the Kalalé district of northern Benin, a country in the Sudano-Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa. Energy poverty and food insecurity define life in this region; there are no reliable electricity sources and 95 percent of the population is engaged in rain-fed, subsistence-level agriculture. They grow cotton, maize, and, to a lesser extent, root crops, but remain net consumers of food, particularly of non-staples, during the six-month dry season (November - April) when almost no fresh food is grown locally. Malnutrition in Kalalé is widespread, with 36 percent of children under five years of age exhibiting signs of stunted growth. Earning income from farming under such marginal conditions is nearly impossible. 104,000 people live in Kalalé's 44 villages, and SELF ultimately seeks to bring solar power to all 44 villages.
SELF worked closely with its local partner, ADESCA (see partnership descriptions in Section D), and its irrigation and horticultural partner, ICRISAT, on the first phase of the project, which piloted the installation of three solar-powered drip irrigation systems in 2007. Excellent results - e.g., 1.9 tons of vegetables grown per month per SMG, $7.50 in new weekly income per farmer, and a fivefold increase in the number of farmers planning to send their children to school after just one year of SMG operation - were documented by evaluation partner Stanford University and published in the February 2, 2010 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) www.self.org/PNAS_Article_Solar_Market_Garden.pdf. Such impacts provided the foundation on which we could build the terms for the second phase of the project, as embodied in this commitment: 1) install eight more SMGs to validate the irrigation model, and 2) solar electrify the two villages where the three pilot SMGs are working.
SELF and ADESCA seek additional funding to complete the optimization of garden production and income. Although well on their way to being proven sustainable, further improvements are needed in the areas of business development, management, and horticultural practices which include seed and nursery production, crop selection, fertilization, and pest control.
In terms of media support, SELF will promote the SMG as a replicable model to address food production, economic development and gender equality once optimization efforts are complete. At that time, assistance in disseminating information on the successful model will be welcome.