Suva, Fiji, August 16 2016— The Government of India and Barefoot College International commenced a historic Pacific Regional Initiative to address climate change, disaster mitigation, gender inequality, children’s education outcomes, women’s health outcomes and the development of sustainable livelihoods; through the installation of 2800 household solar electrification systems o the Barefoot Approach to community owned and managed renewable energy. All technology is fabricated, installed and maintained by rural mature women, replicating successful existing projects across Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.
Following the 2015 FIPIC meetings held at Jaipur India in July 2015, a sanction was given to barefoot College to implement the Women’s Barefoot Solar Engineering initiative across the following Islands: Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nuie, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, and Papua New Guinea. This $1.25M Sanction will provide for Household 40 watt solar systems, robust portable rechargeable lanterns, a village based repair and maintenance workshop and community learning center WiFi enabled; in ever community within the project. Furthermore sensor technology will be integrated to allow for real time data collection on key environmental and performance indicators across the region. This will represent the single largest most comprehensive data gathering system on decentralized solar delivery by women, anywhere in the world.
All trainees will additionally participate in the Co-curriculum program ENRICHE which covers:
• Self Awareness and Leadership
• Human & Basic Legal Rights Rights
• Livelihood skills
• Digital skills
• Financial Inclusion
• Environmental Stewardship
• Women’s Health
• Other / transversal skills
The Government of Fiji has played a key role in steering, supporting and financially contributing to the Initial retraining activities launched today at The Center for Alternative Technologies and Development in Nandave, Fiji. The Barefoot College works in partnership with FLMMA in Fiji since 2011 and with the larger LMMA network across several of the Pacific islands, in implementing the currently installed communities. This partnership has led to deep lasting relationships with communities and local CBO organizations within Fiji. Barefoot College will be expanding its collaboration with LMMA over the coming year.
Today’s opening program included addresses from Excellency Vishvas Sapkal, High Commissioner of India in Fiji, Honorable acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Allieviation, Mrs Rosy Akbar and CEO Barefoot College Meagan Fallone.
“Non formally educated Women are the Pacific Islands greatest untapped and under-valued resource to transform rural communities out of poverty. It is through them that economic vibrancy will come, building strong, sustainable, self reliant communities with capable and resilient civil society mechanisms. We want to mobilize at scale this incredible wealth of wisdom, knowledge and skills, allowing new ways for women to play a stronger role in building a sustainable and resilient Pacific, from the ground up.”
Meagan Fallone, CEO Barefoot College International
“Following the terrible cyclone that hit Vanuatu last year, our village of Epau was the ONLY village on the main island to have light and mobile phone charging, one day after the tragedy because as solar engineers we removed household panels and stored them safely and were able to immediately re-install our community the following day.”
Vivien Obed, Barefoot Solar Engineer from Vanuatu