East Timor villages lit up by solar from Australian not-for-profit

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An Australia-based not-for-profit, the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), has installed hundreds of household solar lighting systems across 12 villages in East Timor.

The two-year project was completed in partnership with two local partners, CNFP and Natiles, and with funding from the Google Impact Challenge 2014, four East Timor Friendship Groups and public donations.

After pilot projects in 2015, now 607 solar systems have been installed in villages in the districts of Aileau, Viqueque and Baucau, affecting 4,000 people.

In each village, Natiles liaised with the community, providing training to a management committee and helping it set up its own maintenance fund, while CNEFP trained 30 local technicians to install, maintain and repair the systems. Participating villagers pay a US$10 installation fee, followed by a monthly subscription of US$2, which will be held by the management committee to fund ongoing maintenance and repairs.

This monthly payment is less than the cost of candles and kerosene for a month, said the ATA.

Lighting was installed inside and outside the front of each house, and each household also received a USB-rechargeable torch on a wristband. The systems are designed to be easy to fix and tamper-proof.

The solar systems allow villagers to charge mobile phones via the USB port and to work or study in the evenings.

The ATA has worked closely with the East Timor Government and the United Nations Development Program on the future of the country’s renewable energy rollout since 35% of Timorese households still have no access to the grid.

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