The Light of empowerment

Solar Power Grid Lights Up River Island

by RAEED ABD-ALLAH CHOWDHURY
February 13, 2022

The sedimentary deltaic islands that scatter the northern and southern tips of Bangladesh appear as they disappear—without warning. Floodwaters rush over the banks, and the land itself crumbles away into the water only to collect at another point in the river.

These alluvial lands make for great cultivation, but not for a great life. The narrow window of opportunity that presents itself before the arable fields are enveloped in the waves means there are communities that live off these impermanent islands, making use of whatever resources they can find.

And there aren’t many. No roads, bridges, highways, gas, electricity, barely even network coverage for mobile phones. These migratory communities have to internally-displace constantly, and all the more frequently as climate change effects become more in magnitude and number.

However, Friendship has been working with these communities for the last 20 years, finding unique, sustainable ways to provide them with improvements in the quality of life, so that they can have opportunity, dignity, and hope.

One of the latest of the interventions is a 54 kW solar-powered microgrid, that powers a “solar village” consisting of 100 households, two dozen shops, a mosque, a flood shelter and other buildings. This village now has the power to run not just lights and fans, but televisions, computers, and other appliances, broadening the horizons of entrepreneurial and family life in the community.

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