SELF on UP w/ CHRIS HAYES

On Saturday, December 8, our executive director, Bob Freling, had the good fortune to appear on MSNBC’s Up w/ Chris Hayes, a weekend morning show that focuses on the latest in political news. The focus of the show was on energy, and Bob talked about SELF’s experience in providing solar solutions to those living in energy poverty and how they can be replicated at a global level to deliver maximum impact.

To demonstrate the benefits of solar energy, Bob focused on the three Solar Market Gardens™, a unique solar-powered drip irrigation system, we installed for women farming collectives in the villages of Dunkassa and Bessassi located in the Kalalé district in northern Benin. And Chris Hayes, the show’s host, showed a video clip from the French television show Vu du Ciel featuring Madam Ganigui Guera, president of the Dunkassa Women’s Farming Collective.

The impacts the SMGs had on the villages were amazing. Each garden has supplied nearly two tons of produce per month; about 20 percent is kept for home consumption and the balance is sold at market, earning an extra $7.50 per week for the women selling fresh produce. Not only has nutrition improved in the villages, but income levels have also risen, helping to pay for other economic development initiatives, school fees, and medical treatment.

We are now installing eight new gardens and they are nearly complete – we have finished constructing all of the water reservoirs that will be used to irrigate the fields, installed solar systems at four sites, and have set up panel support structures at the four remaining sites. We expect to finish all of them by the end of the year, and will start planting the fields in early January.

And we are expanding our installations in the region to power a school, a health clinic, and a microenterprise center to further improve the quality of life for 48,000 people living in Kalalé.

With your help, we can ensure the systems for these locations are completed so that the people of Kalalé can continue to improve their health, get a better education, and start small businesses. Please support the people of Kalalé by making your contribution today – THANK YOU!

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