We highlighted Barefoot College in a previous post, and they are in the news again as four illiterate women from Hyderabad are now fulfilling the role of solar power engineers. An Asia Sentinel article features the unlikely group that received training from Barefoot College’s Rural Technology Park and went on to complete tasks such as solar powering 124 village households, launching the first Women Barefoot Solar Engineers Association, and installing a solar power plant in the technology park. From the article:
Indeed in a country where 23 percent of 586,000 villages and 56 percent of 138 million households do not have electricity, Chennamma and her colleagues are literally bringing hope to hundreds. Analysts say that electrification in some remote areas, especially in distant and hilly terrain, is usually not technically or economically viable. Moreover, transmission and distribution costs of electricity in the country are prohibitive, making it unaffordable for about a quarter of India’s 1.3 billion people, many of who subsist on 20 cents a day, to afford electricity.
According to Dr. Vinayakam (the project director), the experiment has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of training the poor to provide a vital development system. “It also underscores the fact,” he said, “that these people can be successfully entrusted with the management, control and ownership of such a sophisticated technology.”
More on Barefoot College’s solar power projects can be found here.