Lighting in life of poor villagers – a success story

 

Background:

In India still 760 million rural households are without electricity and use kerosene to light-up their houses. In Rajasthan still 470 villages do not have electricity from grid, as they are far away from grid line and number of houses are small making impossible to provide wired electricity to these villages by government. The households are using kerosene lamps to light-up their house, which are causing health hazards to the families and adversely affecting environment. Without electricity in village households are wasting 4-5 productive hours daily.

 

   

 

Electricity is vital to both economic and social development of villages. In India still 760 million rural households are without electricity and use kerosene to light-up their houses. In Rajasthan still 470 villages do not have electricity, as they are far away from grid line and number of houses are small making impossible to provide wired electricity to these villages by government and those who have, their current state is very poor as electricity comes only 2-3 hours a day and not at the time when it is required the most.

The households are using kerosene lamps to light-up their house, which are not only causing health hazards to the family members but also affecting environment adversely. They are spending average Rs. 300/- per month to fuel the kerosene lamps.

Household without electricity are losing 4-5 man-hours of work daily for adult members leading to decrease in earnings and also affecting the studies of children. They are unable to use any communication means including mobile phones as there are no facilities for charging batteries, thus cut-off from rest of the world.

Rural electrification at a household level can provide the essential services such as lighting and communications facilities. India is blessed with abundant solar energy and if harnessed efficiently, the country is capable of producing trillion-kilowatts of electricity. Solar energy is extremely beneficial as it is non-polluting and its generation can be decentralized. The State of Rajasthan receives more than 325 days solar radiation with maximum intensity in India and very low average rainfall. It also has unutilized low cost desert land available in abundance.

The SED has undertaken a programme in collaboration with Global Giving, Washington DC to provide Solar Power System to those poor households who have no electricity connection from grid and use kerosene to light-up their houses. Each System has solar panel, battery and converter, provide electricity to 2 LED bulbs of 5W each for 6 hours and charge 2 mobile phones daily. In addition to it around 20 rural youth are being trained in skill development programmes of 15 days each in assembling of LED bulbs and repair and maintenance of Solar Power System. Average 2 youth from each target village are being trained to provide self-employment in their villages itself.

The Solar Power System is costing Rs. 6000/- (US$ 90) and is not given free of cost. Out of total cost, Rs. 3000/- is project cost and Rs. 3000/- is being recovered from beneficiaries with Rs. 300/- EMI (Equated Monthly Instalment) over the 10 months period. This Rs. 300/- is equal to the amount (Rs. 300/- per month), they are spending monthly on kerosene lamps. After 10 months the beneficiary will have full ownership of the System and for next 15 years they need not to pay anything except change of battery every five years and small maintenance, as and when required. This collection of Rs. 300/- per month from beneficiaries will be used to provide similar System to the new set of beneficiaries every month, thus the cycle will go on and project will self-sustain even after project money exhausted.

PROJECT AREA:

 

Geographically located between 75° 37’ and 77° 26’ east longitude and 24° 25’ and 25° 51’ north latitudes is the Digod tehsil in Kota district, which is just 28 Km. east of the Kota city. The project will be implemented in 10 villages of Tehsil Digod in Kota district of Rajasthan. The project area is very backward. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture, cattle rearing and landless labourers.

 

Rajasthan District Map, District Map of Rajasthan

tDigod_VIKASDARPAN302098876kota

The following villages are being covered under the programme and their total population is given below:

1.      Kancholia                           1590

2.      Kanwarpura                       1650

3.      Kalyanpura                         2500

4.      Ummedpura                        1375

5.      Udapuria                            1080

6.      Mandawari                         1040

7.      Dugarajya                           1520

8.      Toran                                 1845

9.      Kasampura                         1075

10. Digod                                 2590


They are spread over an area of 40 sq. Km. The total population of these villages is around 21905 people. Out of this around 26% is Schedule Caste (SC) and 18% is Schedule Tribe (ST). The Literacy rate is 72% among male and 49% among female. The villagers are still using age old techniques in agriculture. The area has canals for irrigation during non-rainy season. Paddy and soybean are the chief food crops grown in the Kharif season. Wheat, barley, grain and mustard are grown in winter.

The project is being implemented at the SED’s Gramin Vigyan Kendra (GVK) in village Digod of Kota district of Rajasthan. The Centre is spread over 3 acre of land and have building with all facilities for training in rural technologies. The Centre has around 6000 sq. ft. of covered area for providing training (both class room and field) along with equipments.

ACTIVITIES:

 

We have purchased 50 solar lighting systems consisting of consists of Solar Panel, A battery, converter, 2 LED bulbs of 5 W and mobile phone charging facility. Once fully charged these 2 LED bulbs can give light upto seven hours.

 

Out of these so far 45 systems are installed at the homes of poor people in villages of Digod, Kasampura and Parlia of Kota district in Rajasthan. They are installed free of cost at present and amount of $ 5 per month will be collected for 10 months towards 50% cost of the system. This reduction has enabled many village families to purchase the system. They simply could not come up with the money to invest in these systems at the original price, which was at our cost. During April and May we held campaign in these villages. Our survey indicated that this was the price where most people could afford the systems.

 

Mr. Chaturbhuj Bairwa and family with Solar lighting system

   

Use of technology in a unique and innovative way:

 

The SED is not merely buying and installing Solar Power System to the Household, but first providing skill development to the youth from villages itself in establishing hub for making LED bulbs and providing training in repair and maintenance of the System. This is on one hand reduce the cost of the product and other hand ensures smooth functioning of the System. In addition the trained pool of technician will find self-employment in their villages and need not to go to cities for livelihood.

 

We are providing Solar Power to those villages, which are in remote and less populated, they are not likely to get electricity from grid and remained cut-off from rest of world. We are providing not only lighting but also means of communication with mobile charging facilities.

 

The collection of non-project money in instalments and reuse the same to add more beneficiaries is another innovative way to continue the programme even after completion of project period and make project self sustainable over the period of time.

 

General Impact:

 

-        Around 200 people with project and many more will subsequently get pollution free lighting and means of communication with the establishment of Solar Power System in their houses.

 

-        Skill development of 20 youth in assembling of LED bulbs and repair and maintenance of the System to provide employment in villages itself.

 

Impact on income and employment:

 

-         The EMI are only for 10 months and beneficiary will have full ownership of system and for next 15 years, they will save total amount of Rs. 54,000/- (US$ 900). They will also be immune from the rising cost of electricity.

 

-        With more working hours at their disposal, the family members will do more productive work leading to increase household income and children will get time for their studies.

 

-        Mobile charging facility will enhance the penetration of mobile technology and increase communication with outside world.

 

Impact on Environment:

           

-        With the use of clean energy use of kerosene will be stopped leading to reduction in green house gases.

 

-        Better environment in houses with no fumes of kerosene.

 

Impact on Health:

 

-        Use of kerosene causes many respiratory and eye diseases among HH members in general and women in particular. The Solar System will reduce the occurrence of such diseases leading to better health and increased productivity.