We would also like to mention that in the first six months of solar training returning home, we have received success stories from some solar engineers who when visited a household to install the solar equipment, also shared information about menstrual health and hygiene, or basic information on household budget making. The trainees in Fiji a larger number of resources to help them share the newly gained knowledge with their church and women groups. We are amazed at the sharing capability of our trainees and are confident that with support coming from the ground partner, they would be reaching to many women leading a community driven change.
Q: I'd support it being brought to life- I think the project is answering women's needs and is thinking about creating a flexible and adaptable program that will work within their lived context is awesome. Again, the how and the lasting nature of it is going to be the big question. But great idea!
--> Is is very important to listen from our ground partners, women facilitators and participants on the how. Through our focus group and user interviews we understood there will not be a “one solution fits all”. Regarding the lasting nature of the program we believe that ownership and internal capacity building are key. This is what we focus on through our ENGAGE phase. We also know the importance of building local support through networks, mentoring and linkages to locally available services, which led to the creation of our EMPOWER phase.
Q: Operations is a question- language, transport, training etc. I'd like to understand how this isn't adding one more thing to an already full plate- think about what can be taken off a woman's plate to make time for this.
--> Solar Training: The solar training program is a very hands-on program where observation and practice is the key to learning. Each solar trainee builds 35 solar home systems during the six month period and troubleshoots them. Tools such as color coding and simple digital apps are utilized along with a step by step pictorial book to aid learning.
--> Language: Our solar trainers are also non-formally educated people of rural background, who in most cases are not fully literate and speak a few words of English. Barefoot College trainers have therefore naturally developed methods to overcome the literacy and language barriers: a demonstration is worth a thousand words, learning by doing, memorizing by repeating and practicing are the mantras followed during the training. For our Enriche program, we design digital materials targeted at illiterate users and aim to translate them in the local dialects. Our beekeeping curriculum is for example being developed in Swahili for our Tanzanian Mamas beekeepers.
--> Transport: Barefoot College with assistance from the ground partner, organizes the round trip transport of the solar trainees from their villages to Tilonia. Solar House Equipment: Once the women are back in their villages as solar engineers, Barefoot College with support from the ground partner ships the solar household equipment to the solar engineer villages.
--> Time: Enriche is build around Women’s priority and saving time is definitely one of them: as you rightly mention rural women have a lot on their plates! This is why one of our focus is teaching some practical solutions to save them time (improved cookstove and rain water harvesting reduce daily collection time). We also choose livelihoods that can be part time activities such as beekeeping (once a week visit) or sewing (mostly an evening activity once they have light in their homes!). The most labor intensive time for the solar engineer is typically for a month or so upon arrival of the solar household equipment. Once installation throughout the village has been completed, the repair and maintenance requires considerably smaller time investment. Our ENGAGE workshops are scheduled by women facilitators and participants themselves. Women select the months in the year that are most appropriate (for e.g. low seasons for crops) and the time and number of hours per day that are the most appropriate for their schedule.
We loved the resources you shared and we will surely encourage our team members to craft some compelling stories about Barefoot College and Enriche impact!
Thanks again for this opportunity to use Human Centered Design to improve our program, and crossing fingers for the last phase!
Absolutely! Our R&D department is currently working to bring solar power, connectivity and relevant content to the most remote and marginalized rural communities. Women trained as solar engineers play a key role as they ensure that power is always available in their communities rural "Digital Hubs". We are currently piloting this for our Night School initiative and designing content for our ENRICHE program.
Happy to put you in touch with our R&D team if you would like discuss about the technical solution for connectivity through satellite broadband. Please drop us an email at email@example.com.