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Dos de Mayo: A community bordering Ecuador

by Luis Montano

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Light for education

The Dos de Mayo native community was our last project installation as part of  the educational institutions in the Rio Santiago. Dos de Mayo is a Amazonas community located 10 hours from Santa María de Nieva by boat, and is one of the last communities on the river basin bordering Ecuador. This community is interesting because there is a mix of influence from the neighboring country. There is a strong influence from the Shuar culture,  belonging to the Amazon people of  the bordering Ecuadorian community, as well as influence from the Morona riverbed, in the province of Loreto. The residents are characterized by practicing activities of commerce, agriculture, crafts, hunting, fishing, livestock and healing, while always maintaining a respect for nature and their surrounding resources.

The LUTW team arrived on August 8, 2021, with a plan to install two photovoltaic systems in the neighborhood pre-school and primary school. We were welcomed by Mr. Alexander Cuja, community leader, and the communities teachers and parents. Although our team had previsouly conducted our intial evealution months ahead of time, it is still important to reavulate incase there were any changes since the intital assessment. A quick survey of the facilities and a review of the conditions of some existing electrical infrastructure was assessed. 

Next Steps

After review, we realized that the Dos de Mayo pre-school had very similar build characteristics to that of the community of Cucuasa (our previous build – read about our Cucuasa build). This helped us efficiently conduct circuit planning and the execution of this project moved swiftly. This pre-school educated approximately 26 children between the ages of 3 to 5. 

The schools infrastructural frame was similar to our previous community schools,  made from a combination of concrete and wood. The rooftops were made from artificial fiber cement and included a rainwater collection system. This gutter system pushes rain water into large catchment tanks that is then used by the locals (and by our team during our stay).

As we’ve seen in other communities, the Dos de Mayo school did have certain technologies available such as laptops, cell phones and printers  but with irregular access to an energy source, it makes it extremely difficult for teachers to depend on their usage  (more about this in our blog post Top 3 reasons to support Light Up the Amazon today ). 

After assessing the Dos de Mayo pre-school, it was decided to install a 550W photovoltaic system which comes with a 480Ah battery bank and a 1200W inverter. This size of a system can power cell phones, laptops, tablets, a projector, TV, radios, and over 20 lights switches, depending on battery percentage. This may seem small to those of us that are connected to the grid but keep in mind that these panels will generate approximately twice as much energy relative to Canadian systems, due to their high solar radiation because of their proximity to the equator.

One done, one more to go!

The Dos de Mayo primary school accommodates 103 students, and houses a main office, classrooms for grades 1 through 6 and a kitchen where meals are cooked for the children’s lunch. Some of the classrooms were  spread out on the school ‘campus’ which presented us with a challenge during this installation. The design then depends on long cable runs between buildings. One of the main problems with long cable runs in photovoltaic systems is the voltage drop, so it is very important to use properly sized wire to ensure that electricity reaches the furthest point of the system, with minimal losses.

A 1300W photovoltaic power system, a 960Ah battery bank and a 2000W inverter were provided to this school. After the installation LUTW evaluated different aspects of the systems performance such as, how it handled the highest power loads at the furthest point in the system, and how the system performed in the local extreme weather conditions. This system was able to supply 32 lights, more than 30 power outlets, and is capable of energizing the existing technology devices in the school.

After the project, the Dos de Mayo authorities expressed a deep appreciation for the installed systems. The school is now electrically self-sufficient and will not have to resort to using any other method of electrical generation to meet the needs of the school. The community sees the value that the systems offer the schools and committed to keeping them in good condition for everyone’s benefit.  This leads to many people in the community becoming more interested in renewable energy systems so they can avoid the use of their generators. In the future we hope to offer our solar home systems, through our social enterprise, to those in the community so they can light up their homes. 

Acknowledgments

LUTW thanks the authorities for their coordination in the community of Dos de Mayo, Mr. Alexander Cuja, community leader; the teachers Ms. China Dávila and Mr. Elías Dávila; to the association of parents of the schools (APAFA) and the general population for their teamwork and all their efforts for the benefit of the children of the community.

Follow along for our #LightUpTheAmazon campaign! In the coming weeks we will be sharing the stories of our Peruvian projects team  and there experience lighting up 6 schools in the Peruvian Amazon. 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.

As part of our LIVE Question & Answer session with our Projects Assistants we will be asking all of your questions! Have a question for our Peru projects team – enter it below! We will be sharing all the answers at the end of our campaign. 

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