December 2011: 2011 Year End Review

2011 was noteworthy for SELF and our beneficiaries. With your support, we helped thousands improve their lives through the use of solar energy. From Haiti to Benin to Rwanda, our fight against energy poverty continued, as did our efforts to raise visibility about this important issue on the global development stage.

Solar Health Care: From Hospitals to Health Posts

Improving healthcare facilities with solar – to light operating rooms, power equipment, and refrigerate vaccines – remained a priority for us this year, and we’re happy to report that SELF completed installations in Haiti and Rwanda to strengthen operations and patient care.

As part of our post-earthquake Rebuilding Haiti initiative with Partners In Health (PIH), SELF installed two solar-diesel hybrid systems at hospitals in Thomonde and La Colline, and one system at the women’s health clinic in Lascahobas. These systems ensure the stable supply of electricity needed to provide reliable health services to patients in need. The third system at the women’s health clinic helps Haitian women receive family planning information, assisted deliveries and cesarean sections and other critical medical services. 

In addition, in the Gakenke District of the Northern Province of Rwanda, SELF installed a 1.6 kW solar electric system at the Rukura Health Center and three 270 Wp systems at health posts located around the district. These systems provide reliable, 24/7 electricity to support medical staff in their delivery of health care services, particularly those that treat patients with HIV.

Whole Village: Scaling-up in Benin

Building upon our 2010 success in Benin, this year we drilled water wells and prepared fields in anticipation of installing eight more Solar Market Gardens throughout the region in 2012. In addition, we’ll begin installing solar energy systems to provide essential power for each village’s water supply system, school, health center, community center, street and market lighting, and household solar LED lighting systems.

Lighting the Amazon: Xixuaú-Xipariná Ecological Reserve

Previously at the Xixuaú-Xipariná Ecological Reserve located deep in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, SELF installed a solar system to power computers, satellite communication, telemedicine and lighting. Over the years the reserve has drawn increased scientific and eco-tourist interest, so we returned in May to install new solar powered lighting in five newly built guest houses, or malocas, used by visitors.

The Power of Light: Improving Safety in Haiti Transition Camps

In September, we installed 68 solar powered streetlights in the tent camp of Caradeux and 32 solar streetlights in the Pétionville Club camp run by Sean Penn’s group, HRO J/P. We’re proud to report that as soon as the lights were turned on, reports of violence and sexual assaults dramatically diminished.

The Global Solar Energy Stage

SELF assumed a visible role in the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative, designed to engage governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to identify solutions in providing universal access to modern energy services to the 1.6 billion people worldwide living in energy poverty. Our work in Benin is featured on the initiative’s homepage and in the “Energy Success Stories” section. Bob is also co-chairing the initiative’s Working Group on Energy and Health.

In addition, this year Bob shared our project results and led panels and discussions at several conferences and events such as the 55th Session of the U.N. Commission on Women; the U.N. Private Sector Forum; the Energy for All: Financing Access for the Poor conference; the inaugural Global Solar Forum; and the Second Symposium on Energy Poverty. 

Awards
Lastly, SELF was the recipient of two awards this year. The prestigious Energy Institute’s Community Initiative Award was given to us for our SMG’s in Benin, and for that same work we also recieved a National Energy Globe Award. We’re honored to receive these awards and thank both organizations for their recognition!
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