1 - Solar power technology brings villages to life

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Solar power technology brings villages to life

20 February 2018

Interlock Charitable Trust is using solar power as a simple and effective means to revitalise poverty-stricken villages across India.

Preparing the solar array (Credit: Interlock)

Interlock Charitable Trust is a British registered charity that exists to facilitate sustainable development solutions to poverty-related issues within rural communities. It currently has seven projects within the State of Maharashtra.

Clean water, electricity, Internet access and education programmes do not often reach remote villages and are just a number of things we take for granted in big cities. 

Last year, Interlock was involved in helping a village install the first solar powered pumping system for a remote village in the Kokan West coast of India. Without any power for conventional pumps, villagers had no access to safe drinking water but with their own new solar powered system, 80+ families have access to clean water.

A Solar Training Centre is needed for village communities to learn how to install and maintain their own solar systems. Resulting in a huge reduction in cost and no corruption and also this means if a fault did occur, there would be less chance of a costly repair bill.

This allowed village life to be renewed; irrigation water from the solar powered pumps is now used for increased production. Rice can by planted long before the Monsoon rains – almost doubling the crop and hugely increasing the village income.


Artistic impression of a completed Cluster (Credit: Interlock)

Many poor rural people are flocking to big cities in search of work only to end up in slums. Another Interlock aim is to work within communities to build and sustain projects that bring employment and opportunity to the areas that need it the most.

Now, with viable irrigation and safe drinking water, in selected rural communities construction can begin on small solar powered clusters that include a guesthouse, a clinic and internet connection where the community can learn from the IT. The guest house will generate the ongoing funding required for social programmes i.e. HIV/Aids awareness, vaccinations, childcare, agriculture and facilities for teaching. A college in Mumbai has offered to provide for students who will visit the communities and teach the villagers how to access and use the internet. Young people will be using the advancing technology to enhance rural development and it is hoped that this will become an international programme; interlocking the local with the global. Help is required for the design of a programme to enable this interlocking. 

Staff provided by the village will operate the guest units and they will be trained at the Interlock Ecology and Hospitality centre. Young girls, because they are often a burden on their families are taken away from school and married off, and young men, who have dropped out of school so as to provide for their families, will be encouraged to be the students and then to be employed in their own village for livelihood renewal projects.

The Catering and Hospitality centre is a 14-acre site and has been prepared with roads and drinking water facilities. It will be used for the Interlock Shantivan Eco development centre and Eco-hotel. The hotel will cater for visitors to the centre who will come to participate in local projects. Funds from the hotel will be used to sponsor the students from the villages (they will be paid so that they can earn whilst they learn). Not only that, but the money can be used to give these communities access to the Internet which will help bridge the digital divide between rural communities and the big cities. 

Calling all designers!

Interlock is now on a mission to design and build a cluster of showcase buildings that village leaders can visit to see the benefits and learn how to construct and install their own solar systems. The cluster would cost less than £48,000 for the overall buildings. If anyone has any ideas on the solar system design of the clusters i.e. telemedicine for the clinic etc., types of technology to be used or would just like to get involved, contact Interlock: http://www.interlock.co.uk/index.php/contact-us 

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