Solar energy for Nicaraguan villages

Over 1.3 million people in Nicaragua, primarily rural residents, lack access to electricity. In Northern Nicaragua, the local NGO Association of Rural Development Workers – Ben Linder (ATDER-BL) has led a bottom-up rural electrification effort in the mountainous areas of El Cuá and San Jose de Bocay, Jinotega.

To meet the needs of the most isolated communities, ATDER-BL and the American NGO Green Empowerment have created a rural solar panel program, with 355 systems installed through the end of 2015 with the support of the United Nations Development Fund and the GIZ Nicaragua. The program provided interest free credit and a 25-50% cost subsidy to families to support their purchase of a 50 or 100 watt solar system, in addition to training for a group of 10 local technicians who install and maintain the systems.

To meet the energy needs identified and sustainably expand our impact in the region, Green Empowerment and ATDER-BL are working to create a revolving-loan fund that will provide rural families with 15-month interest-free microcredits for the purchase of solar systems. Targeting communities where grid extension is not foreseen over the next eight years based on cost and distance considerations, the program will apply micro-credit best practices gleaned from prior
successful implementation.

To motivate faster repayment rates and reduce defaults through peer support and a sense of financial responsibility, participants will be required to form five-household lending groups and contribute 40% of system cost as a down payment.

EKOenergy gives €20,000 to this project. We will keep you informed.

Click here for more information about this project on the website of Green Empowerment.