Eighty four households in Tepu, located in Suriname’s Hinterland, now have power from a newly installed solar system. The project, officially titled ‘Women Empowerment & Renewable Solar Energy Pilot Project’ was supported by the UN Development Programme’s Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (UNDP J-CCCP) in partnership with the Amazon Conservation Team Suriname (ACT).

The solar system was officially handed over during a ceremony attended by UNDP Suriname’s Deputy Resident Representative, Armstrong Alexis along with ACT’s Program Director, Minu Parahoe. Many villagers, along with Traditional Leaders and representatives from various ministries and government institutions were also in attendance to see the sign unveiled. Mr. Alexis indicated that this project is in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where no one is left behind; not even in the dark.

Villagers took an active role in the project, with 4 women and 4 men assisting with household installations and 15 villagers supporting capacity building. Residents have decided to establish a solar commission which will coordinate payments, maintenance and regulation of the solar system. During the ceremony, villagers were encouraged by ACT to use power wisely, so that the system isn’t overloaded. The Chief quipped that the system belongs not just to the community but to everyone, as when they have visitors they won’t have to be in the dark now.

This project not only benefits the residents of Tepu and their visitors but, goes a long way in supporting reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) which contribute to climate change. Tepu previously operated on a power system setup some forty years prior, dependent on a generator and fuel. The new system will provide an estimated reduction of 25 tons per year in GHG emissions.

The Women Empowerment & Renewable Solar Energy Pilot Project is so named as Kitura and Anna, two villagers, travelled to India to be trained in the installation, repair and maintenance of solar systems. Kitura and Anna have now returned and provided training to fellow community members and other villages.