The sun reaches inside homes in Bahia

Published on Sunday, 19 February 2017

“It is almost a miracle, this process where you learn by doing, exchanging experiences with other women from all over the world. They come back home with skills, empowered, and full of energy and passion”

– Maria Cristina Papetti, Head of Sustainability and Practice Sharing at Enel

Women who teach other women

The education of women is the key of the partnership between Enel and Barefoot College. The model is exported, experience is circulated, the benefits are multiplied and the process of stable access to clean electricity is accelerated. And the life of communities changes. Since 2012, the project has engaged 36 villages in eight South American countries, delivering electricity to over 19,000 people.

And women are always at the centre. Ensuring universal access to electricity, generated in a sustainable, safe and affordable manner, is now recognised to be a factor of vital importance for economic and social development, as well as for gender equality and the empowerment of women, also economically. The possibility to use electricity allows improving many aspects in the lives of women in the most remote villages.

Huge benefits for the economy of rural communities, too. According to research conducted in 2014 by the NGO AVSI, in Brazil, the average monthly expenditure of households to access alternative energy amounted to about BRL 16.00 (sixteen reais). Today, the families covered by the EGP and Barefoot College programme pay 5 BRL (five reais) a month for the maintenance of the solar panels, that is one third. Research has shown that the economic impact of the programme is also significant, not to speak of the health benefits reported by 73% of the people.

Electricity is a precondition for development. Bridging the energy divide that still sees 1.4 billion people without access to electricity is one of the priorities of Enel's Open Power approach. The partnership with the Barefoot College is in line with the goals of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. One of the goals reads “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” The communities of Bahia are grateful.