Lighting homes in rural Nicaragua

March 29, 2017

The Mahogany Project

The Mahogany project, now in its final year, aims to support three communities on the eastern coast of Nicaragua to access solar PV energy systems for home and enterprises. The three remote communities of Magnolia, Belen and Hone Creek, are located inland, along the vast Rio Escondido. The communities have no access to the national grid and are extremely marginalised with their only reliable transport route being the river.

Through a micro-loan scheme, this project aims to support up to 65 households in the community to access one of four carefully designed solar home systems of varying sizes. Access to solar power will replace traditional fuels such as candles, kerosene and diesel that are currently being used for lighting, leading to improved living conditions for families as well as reducing fuel costs, health issues, and risks of fires and spillages. Access to clean, affordable solar power is also expected to allow existing micro-businesses to expand, and allow households to use the energy for income generating activities.

Technicians installing solar energy systems for homes

Over the last six months the project has moved into the technical installation phase, installing solar home systems for beneficiary households who have been approved for micro-credit loans. Through two installations rounds, 30 energy systems have now been installed, of these 28 systems have been installed in homes, one in a community institution, and one in a home that will also benefit the family run micro-enterprise. Over the next six months a further 35 households are expected to be awarded micro-credit agreements and have energy systems installed.

A family and the blueEnergy technicians with their newly installed solar energy system
A family and the blueEnergy technicians with their newly installed solar energy system

Maricela and Walter

Maricela's house stands out in the darkness thanks to solar energy
Maricela’s house stands out in the darkness thanks to solar energy

Maricela from Magnolia village in Nicaragua now has light in her home thanks to this project, and no longer needs to rely on candles and torches at night. “Now I see the difference in the children, they are happier and can do more after dark”.

The family now enjoys their evenings with ease. Maricela is able to cook dinner more easily with the light, whereas previously she would struggle with a torch or cook before the sun went down, meaning the family would have a cold dinner in the evening. Maricela’s husband Walter can enjoy more quality time with the children in the evening.

Walter has also been able to use the access to power to expand his business and increase his earnings to support his family. Though this is not his full-time job, Walter often cuts hair for members of the community on the weekends. With access to solar lighting in his home, he now can provide haircuts in the evenings for community members, which is much more convenient for him and for his clients. He is now thinking about investing in electric clippers and other hair dressing tools to allow him to expand his business and provide a service that would previously not be possible.

Solar lighting has brought even more brightness to Maricela and Walter’s family than was expected.

Maricela and her children outside their home
Maricela and her children outside their home

The Mahogany project is delivered in partnership with blueEnergy and iDE Nicaragua.