Jordanian Villagers Trained to Bring Solar Energy to Rural Areas

  Solar Energy Coming to Jordanian Villages

Three Jordanian villagers returned this week from training at the Barefoot College in India (Petra photo). 

Here’s a heartwarming story published in the Jordan Times yesterday that can distract us for a few moments from the human and environmental catastrophe in Japan: A new grassroots program in Jordan aims to bring solar power to rural areas.

While the Israeli-Palestinian Comet-ME partnership is similarly installing solar and wind technology in impoverished Palestinian villages in the Hebron hills, Jordan’s program is unique in that it will be led by three local residents who received six months of training in solar power technology at the Barefoot College in India, a college that only accepts people from remote areas across the world.

Sixty-one-year-old Seiha Al Raja, her son Bader Awad Fahed Hamed, and Rafia Enad Fahed Hamed from the Mansheyet Al Ghayath village returned home this week and are now awaiting  funds to initiate a JD50,000 project to install solar panels for about 200 families in the village, according to Jordan’s Ministry of Environment, which has contacted several donor bodies and private sector entities that have expressed interest in financing the venture.

“The training in India was excellent. I will train other people in my village and other villages in the area on how to use solar cells to generate power. Some people in the village are not provided with electricity. Many others do not have money to pay for it,” Bader told the Jordan Times yesterday.

“I never would have believed that the sun can be used to generate electricity,” his mother Seiha said. “At the end of the course, I was surprised and very happy that I could assemble and conduct maintenance for solar cells to generate electricity. I am illiterate, but am proud of myself now,” she added.

Solar grandmothers

Barefoot College has trained 140 grandmothers in 23 countries. As a result, some 600 villages in India, Asia, Africa and South America are now running on solar power.

Jordan’s Minister of Environment Taher Shakhshir noted that the project is the first of its kind in the region, and said the ministry has coordinated with the Ministry of Education to provide a classroom for the three Jordanians to spread the know-how they acquired in India.

Environment Ministry officials emphasized the importance of such projects, noting that supplying electricity to remote villages costs about JD250,000.  Jordan has set a goal of meeting 10% of its energy needs with solar power by 2020.

:: Jordan Times

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