Barefoot College – Empowering Communities to Create Power
Barefoot College’s central belief is that the knowledge, skills and wisdom found in villages should be used for its development before getting skills from outside.
Barefoot College empowers and trains women in low income communities in rural India and beyond to provide basic services including solar power & clean water towards goals of sustainable, self-sufficient communities. Their inspiring approach has demystified technologies and decentralised their uses by transferring the access, control, management and ownership of sophisticated technologies to rural men and women, who can barely read and write.
“Every year, the Barefoot College team will identify a few villages in India and in other developing countries—places where it would seem impossible to have a solar electrification system, especially one implemented by illiterate grandmothers. Next, the Barefoot team works with local and national organisations to establish a commitment with the village elders. The elders agree to select two grandmothers to be trained as solar engineers, to choose a village committee composed of men and women to help operate the solar program, collect funds from each participating household and provide a workshop building where the grandmothers can run their operations. The solar engineers are specifically middle-aged women. These women have strong roots in the village; they influence daily life and play a major role in its development rather than migrating to neighbouring cities soon after training, as younger community members might.”
Check out details on their Solar Solutions. “Each of the solar electrification solutions pioneered in rural, remote, non-electrified villages by Barefoot College has proved that both illiterate and semi-literate men and women can fabricate, install, use, repair and maintain sophisticated solar units through basic knowledge share and hands-on practical training. The Barefoot College has harnessed solar energy not only to provide light but also to create employment for the unemployable, to boost income for the poor, to save the environment by reducing carbon emission and not cutting trees, and most importantly, to provide self-reliant solutions within village communities.”
I really like their
values-led approach – which highlights: Equality, Collective Decision Making, Decentralisation, Self-Reliance & Austerity.
How might we be more inclusive in our community engagement around renewable energy? How might we create a sense of purpose through engaging folks in renewable energy?