Hundreds receive the gift of light
Six hundred people in villages in Timor-Leste are benefiting from the latest round of Renew solar-powered lighting installations.
In September, solar systems were installed in Halik Nain village in the Fatumea sub-district of Covalima and in Namanei village in the Quelicai sub-district of Baucau. The latter was another successful collaboration with Timor Adventures, a Timorese tourism social enterprise.
The project in Halik Nain was in close collaboration with the Covalima Community Centre and supported by the Friends of Suai/Covalima. For both villages, 15 people were trained in community engagement, technical repairs and community project management.
Harry Andrews, Renew’s international projects manager, praised Renew members for their willingness to fund the projects in Timor-Leste.
“All these achievements would not have been possible without the donations from our members where small contributions add up to a huge impact on people’s lives,” he said.
Harry is looking forward to a busy and productive 2019 for Renew in Timor-Leste:
“One of the first projects we are going to get off the ground is a maintenance program for the systems Renew installed over the past 15 years on institutions such as health clinics, schools and community buildings,” he said.
“Components in many of these systems will be reaching the end of their operational life. Renew will kick this off with an audit of its projects, and then attempt to raise funds to undertake repairs and maintenance. This is an important part of ensuring the impact that we achieve is not eroded.”
Renew is also supporting a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) home lighting project in the Baguia sub-District of Baucau which saw solar systems installed in 60 households in August.
PAYG is a model that allows households to pay a system off over time with small repayments (like micro-finance). The model has seen exponential growth in sub-Saharan Africa with hundreds of thousands of households taking up solar systems.
“If it can be successfully adapted to Timor-Leste, the model may allow our donations to be recycled so they can have even greater impact over time,” Harry said. “We continue to monitor the pilot and investigate ways we can help expand it to provide a more substantial sample to monitor and learn from.”
Renew will continue its village lighting program in 2019, with an aim to provide solar-powered lighting and phone charging to 150-300 households, as well as investing time and effort to ensure there is support and spare parts available to our past village lighting projects.
“We look forward to everyone’s continued support in 2019,” Harry said.