Solar energy is changing Indigenous lives in Ecuador

Solar energy is changing Indigenous lives in Ecuador

March 12, 2024 0 By Julie Campbell

A community living in wooden huts in the Amazon is no longer forced to rely on fossil fuels.

An Indigenous Achuar community living in Ecuador’s Amazon region is experiencing the game-changing potential of solar energy to power homes and watercraft.

The village is enclosed by oil reserves

The population of the village is about 100 people, and it is entirely surrounded by the largest oil reserves in the country. For over four decades residents of the village have joined with other local Achuar communities to advocate against the continuation of oil development that has profoundly changed the Ecuadorian Amazon.

At the same time, these same communities had no other choice but to rely on the gasoline against which they were advocating, as they are well off the grid and have no other option for lighting homes and powering the boats – services critical to their survival.

Solar energy is overcoming very limited electric access

The region of Ecuador in which the Achuar live has some of the lowest access to electricity in the country. That said, 12 villages in the deeply forested area have now installed solar energy generation panels, and it is making a considerable difference.

Solar Energy - solar panels - rainforest

The renewable power is changing their daily lives in a spectrum of ways. This includes charging their “peque peques”, boats that had previously been gasoline-powered but that now move more slowly but do not require gasoline, keeping water clean and noise low. This is critical to communities that rely on that water for drinking, food preparation and bathing. 

The boats have panels installed on their roofs and were provided through a nonprofit organization called Kara Solar.

Kara Solar energy panels

hydrogen news ebookKara Solar has been promoting the use of this renewable power throughout the area, providing boats to local residents, which the new owners must then build, maintain, and repair. The group’s funding comes from outside donations and intends to provide residents with an additional 10 boats during the next couple of years.

With their own boats that don’t need expensive fuel, villagers save money when they have to travel to the nearest town and school attendance has skyrocketed among children. In fact, it has more than doubled. The boat that runs on solar energy is essentially free for them to use and is much safer than walking.

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