“I have no doubt that we are going to achieve a lot. I’m hoping that my life and that of my village will change forever.” Those were the words of Raf’ia Abdul Hamid exactly one year ago. At the time Rafi’a, a mother of four, was finishing off a year-long course at the Barefoot College in India to qualify as a solar engineer. She was preparing to return to Jordan and was clearly excited about the prospect of bringing clean energy to her village. Although she had come from a underprivileged background and was illiterate, she had had learnt how to setup and repair solar panels and was eager to apply her skills.
But one year on and little progress has been made.
Raouf Dabbas, Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Environment in Jordan informed me that the solar project was still awaiting donor assistance. “We’ve tried UNDP/GEF where the local representative informed us that there were no funds available at the time. The Ministry of Planning in Jordan responsible for supporting small socio-economic projects also turned us down,” he said
“Our hopes now are focused on the Jordan Environment Protection Fund who have been presented with the 3 year technical capacity building proposal for the Rural Solar Electrification project. The Jordan Society for Sustainable Development NGO is following up the proposal closely with the Fund at this time. There is a 50-50 chance they will be successful.”
Dabbas was also eager to add that the Barefoot College in India, which trains illiterate women from all around world, has also offered some assistance to the ex-students. As well as searching for funding sources, they have provided the village with a limited amount of panels. These were successfully assembled by the women and there are now solar systems in three homes in the village.
“The Bedouin women have demonstrated that they possess the knowledge and experience to put the systems together,” remarked Dabbas. All they need now is the financial and administrative support to assembly solar panels on a large scale and also to train a new generation of female solar engineers.
I’ll keep readers updated on the Jordan Environment Protection Fund’s final decision.
:: Image via Barefoot College. The Barefoot college launched the solar power course for women in 2005 and already more than 150 grandmothers from 28 countries have been trained. Over 10,000 homes in 100 villages have been solar electrified which has saved 1.5 million litres of kerosene from polluting the atmosphere.
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