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Adivasi communities light up their homes with solar energy

Story

By Dibya Alok

26 May 2022

250 Adivasi families is getting access to solar energy. Gram Vikas is distributing 500 solar lanterns and 100 solar home lighting systems to school-going children and marginalised Adivasi families in Kalahandi and Gajapati districts of Odisha.

School-going children received solar lanterns that will support their education.

Photograph by Rufus Sunny

“We have been living without electricity for a year now. Our village has a grid connection, but the area’s transformer malfunctioned in March 2021. Nobody from the government department knows about the failure or ever comes for maintenance. We do not know where and to whom we should report getting this fixed. Somebody was saying the machine has to be replaced and it cost a lot.” says Peru Majhi from Kanjiguda village in Sindhipadar gram panchayat of Thuamul Rampur block, Kalahandi district.

Peru, 40 years, works as a farmer on his land. He grows pulses and paddy on the one acre land. The produce he gets is for self-consumption and the surplus he sells in the market. Peru also has livestock which he raises and sells in the market. His wife, Nargi Majhi, age 35, helps him in his work. They earn nearly ₹20,000 – 30,000 in a year. Peru and Nargi have three children; two daughters and one son.

Peru received a solar home lighting system in October 2021. They use the home lighting system for household purposes and children’s studies. They charge the system in the sunlight and use it when it is dark. “We use the light from 6 pm till midnight. During this time we finish our household work like cooking, cleaning, arranging beds, and children’s studies.”

Indu Majhi, Peru’s elder girl child, appeared for the matriculation exam this year. “I was hopeless about studies until we received this light. It came to my rescue during my class 10 board exam. Our schools were closed due to the COVID-19 lockdown. We couldn’t learn in school. The home lighting system at least helped me study for 4-5 months at home. I could prepare well for my exams. I have done well in my papers and am waiting for my results.”

Bipin Singh Majhi, Peru’s ten-year-old son is in Class 6 in Sindhipadar Upper Primary School. The school is open now after two years.  Every day, Bipin cycles four kilometres to his school. He is at school from 6 am to 10 am and studies for 2-3 hours using the light, when he is back at  home in the evening.

Jogindra Majhi, 11 years old, is  in Class 7 in Sindhipadar Upper Primary School. He has received the home lighting system and uses it for studies every day. “We charge the system till 1 pm through solar panels placed on the roof. We use it in the evening when it is going to be dark. I am able to study in the evening even if electricity is not there at home.”

The solar home lighting system has a charge controller integrated with a battery and 3 USB ports for mobile and device charging, one solar panel, and two LED bulbs with holders. The battery gives 6-8 hours of backup on one full charge. The solar lantern has 3 watts LED lantern, a 3-watt solar panel, and a dual option for charging using grid or solar power. The battery gives backup for 6-8 hours in one full charge. The system is easy to maintain and covers a one-year warranty for any issue.

Peru says, “All the users in the village say that the home lighting system is of good quality and gives long back up. The light is very bright and fills the room. There is no complaint from anyone. It is helping households do their work even in the dark. Eariler, we used dibri (kerosene lantern), which had poor light and was expensive.”

SBI Foundation, through Project Vibha, is supporting 250 households with 24*7 solar energy access. These households in remote villages have either no electricity connection or have unlimited power cuts due to rain, wind, and technical failure. Through this project, Gram Vikas distributes 500 solar lanterns and 100 solar home lighting systems to school-going children and marginalised Adivasi families in Kalahandi and Gajapati districts of Odisha. 13 out of 60 households in Kanjiguda village have received the solar home lighting system.

The respective Village Development Committees identify these households in the village with school-going children and marginalised families. The solar lights encourage and help children spend more time studying and learning. Women and men can do household work in the evening. Families in the dark have now found new hope through the solar lights.

Nargi Majhi doing household work using the solar home lighting system.

Photograph by Amarsing Majhi

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Amarsing Majhi, Field Expert in Gram Vikas supported in story collection. Ganesh Chakravarthi edited the story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dibya Alok is the Coordinator - Documentation in Gram Vikas.

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