LUTW's approach to community development
Community development empowers residence to come together and work towards effective change derived from long-term solutions. It’s building capacity and is an integral piece of sustainable development. LUTW’s initial steps in project planning is to identify key locals who will participate, learn and grow with us, in the field of renewable energy. This is important for many reasons. For our Amazon projects, LUTW held an initial training session in the community of Santa Maria de Nieva, hosted by a local convention centre. The objective: to build knowledge capacity around the importance of the technical maintenance of solar photovoltaic systems in the Santiago River basin, in order to maintain the longevity of their power. Seven technicians showed interest in learning and contributing to the development of their communities and attended our training session. Many of them already had a basic understanding of this technology and were able to quickly retain the electrical and photovoltaic principles. Some participants already had some previous installation experience and a few technicians even had their own systems at home. Many came from technical backgrounds such as electrical, construction and carpentry but they were all ready to absorb a new skill that would help their communities and families.
Solar energy is everyone's power
The training sessions were implemented through LUTW’s training and education pillar and based on the off-grid photovoltaic systems manual developed specifically for training local technicians. The session is divided into three parts:
- A theoretical overview of photovoltaic systems. Technicians learn about the physical occurrence of power generation through the use of solar panels and how to design basic electrical circuits in the small-scale context.
- Practical technical skills exercises. This consists of a series of practical exercises to teach technical skills, such as cable identification and management, simple electrical installations, and identify wiring errors. For example, one exercise consists of an electrical circuit simulating the most common installation errors which then the technicians have to find and fix the problems with the circuit.
- Hands-on installation experience. The best part! The newly trained technicians join us on our next project installation which in this case, covered a 28 day span with 6 schools in the Amazon. Over the span of 28 days they had to apply what they had learned in the classroom to the 6 school projects and demonstrate their ability in the skills they had been taught. When LUTW runs a volunteer installation project, the technicians train beside the volunteers, making one cohesive team. To ensure hands-on training in all area’s of the installation, we divide everyone into three teams: the electrical box team, the solar panel team, and the wiring team. The technicians then rotate between the area’s, gaining valuable insight and experience into the completed installation process all with the guidance of the LUTW team. The efficient nature of these projects made for a rapid learning curve, but with each installation the trainees improved in both quality and speed.
Creating opportunity beyond projects
At the end of the project installations the trainees were awarded certificates of Maintenance Technicians in Photovoltaic Systems. With this training the technicians will not only be able to perform maintenance on the community systems that they installed but will also have the ability to start their own solar installation business, installing and sustaining other systems in their communities. The participants of the program committed to continually developing their skills and informing their communities about the benefits of solar energy. LUTW maintains contact with them and assist them in system design, system maintenance, and other installation related activities.
The experience of technicians from Amazonas region, Condorcanqui Province, Río Santiago district
Robert Hinojosa – Community of Puerto Galilea
“I enjoyed learning about the electrical box and solar panel. What interests me most is that I continue to gain experience working with electricity and photovoltaics. I am committed to this work that is for future generations, supporting their educational institutions. I will also be able to support my relatives by working as a photovoltaic systems technician.”
Fernán Petsain – Community of Boca Chinganaza
“I have learned how solar panels work, the importance of using electrical equipment and the responsible use of certain devices given their power output. I am interested and I would very much like to continue with this work. I am interested in the work that LUTW has been doing and I would like to continue with projects or independent work doing solar installations. I am from the town of Boca Chinganaza and I plan to contribute to my community using the experience that I’ve gained. I hope that in the future it will be possible for some institution in my town to benefit from these projects.”
Juster Samarén – Community of Chapiza
“I thank the NGO LUTW for bringing this support, which for the first time has been seen in this area. I am very interested in continuing to work in this sector, with NGOs or other entities. In my experience I liked the installation of the electrical box, the wiring, and the techniques to identify and differentiate direct and alternating current in photovoltaic systems. I am committed to continuing to advance in this line of work and I ask that other organizations not leave these types of communities behind and that they continue to work towards a better education for those who need it most.”
This is the last week of our #LightUpTheAmazon campaign! over the last 4 weeks we shared the stories of our Peruvian projects team and there experience lighting up 6 schools in the Peruvian Amazon. Check them out here: Blog stories. We are sharing these stories to give you a glimpse at the impact that sustainable energy has in the Amazonas regions of Peru. We are now fundraising to provide solar systems for our last 2 schools in our Amazon 2021 projects! If you enjoyed our read please consider sharing or donating to the campaign!
To learn more head to our Current Projects Page