• Submitted by: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
  • Topic: Energy
  • Keywords: Rural women, grandmothers, environmentally friendly, cost effective Greenfield technology, rural communities, solar technology, Barefoot Solar Engineers (BSE), training, fabricate, install, maintain, solar lightening systems, empowerment, illiterate women, skills, UN Women
  • Location: 16 villages in Liberia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda
  • Date of completion: 2012-12-31
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Deliverables & Resources


UN Women, Barefoot College of India

Description/achievement of initiative

a. Capacity building of grandmothers in Africa on solar technology: In six months' training in India, the women have learnt to use sophisticated tools to fabricate, repair and maintain solar systems. They have learnt how to fabricate charge controllers, inverters and fabricate solar lanterns only using colour code to identify electronic parts. Each of these women has already made lantern circuits, circuits for chargers and LED Lamp chargers.

b. Empower illiterate rural women to solar electrify their own villages in Africa

c. Solar electrify homes and communities in the African countries concerned

d. promote the use of sustainable energy

Implementation methodologies

In brief, the commitment will be achieved through strong leadership and oversight role of UN Women, strong partnership with the Barefoot College of India, preparation of women before the training, training of women in India, procurement, distribution and monitoring of solar equipment and follow up visits and support to Barefoot solar engineers in their communities.

UN Women working in collaboration with relevant Ministries in the selected African countries and the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC), government of India identifies 26 women from 16 villages in Liberia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda and trained the women in India in the installation and maintenance of solar panels and systems to electrify their own homes and villages.

By getting the communities to pay every month for the use of the solar units (thus reaching the very poorest of the poor who cannot afford to buy these systems even in installments), the financial commitment is assured for the purchase of replacement components and payment of the monthly salary of the woman solar engineer. This salary provides the incentive for the woman solar engineer to work and look after the units regularly.

Deliverable Date
Selection and preparation of the women before they travel to India for the Training 2011
26 women coming from 16 villages from Liberia (8), South Sudan (9), Tanzania (6), and Uganda (2) trained in India in the installation and maintenance of solar panels and systems to electrify their own homes and villages 2011
Solar electrification and construction of maintenance work stations in 16 villages by Barefoot engineers with support from UN Women country offices 2012
Procurement and distribution of solar equipment to villages of participating women 2012
Type Details
Financing (in USD) $50,000
Other, please specify Training cost of women (travel, living costs and fees) covered by the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC), Government of India
Financing (in USD) $346,172
Staff / Technical expertise Costs for monitoring and follow up with the women in their villages
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