Communities in remote, rural areas traditionally lack access to conventional power sources. As these communities have to rely on kerosene or firewood for basic energy needs, pressure on the local environment have increased dramatically having a negative impact on the global environment. It is estimated that one rural family in Africa typically burns 60 liters of kerosene a year, releasing one ton of CO2 in less than ten years.
Solar energy provides an alternative energy solution while simultaneously spurring progress in human development including poverty reduction, gender equality, education and health. However, there is a need to enhance the capacities of local communities to build, install, maintain and repair solar technologies and local women could play a significant role in addressing this issues.
For this reason, in 2008 the GEF Small Grants Program (SGP) decided to enter into a partnership agreement with Barefoot College and support "Women Solar Engineer" pilot projects across Africa's and Asia's poorest countries. In this collaborative effort, the GEF SGP provides communities with technical support and funding for the solar panel kits. The Barefoot College, a pioneer in demystifying complex technological processes for illiterate students, offers a six-month training to the women beneficiaries of the GEF SGP on their campus in Tilonia, India.