On The Eve Of Development

scatec-solarNeetu (13) is a student of class seven. Her village, Rampur located in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh, has a primary school (up to standard five), so she has to go to the adjoining village Mathanpura for her schooling. She has two sisters and one brother. All of them go to school.

Her cousin Rinkoo studies in class eight. But she does not go to the school and would appear for the exams only (because of the social constraints). Almost all boys in the village go to school but girls study up to class 7 or 8 only, because after 5th they have to go to the school in adjoining village.

Neetu’s mother, Girija devi works at home and helps her husband in the field. Both the Neetu’s parents can not help her in her studies. Neither do they have any tuition facility. Neetu has to do her home work by her own and she does it under the kerosene lamp, as the village has no electricity.

Most of the energy demands in Rampur depend on the fossil fuels. Here kerosene lamps are used for the lighting purpose, diesel pumps are used for irrigation, cow dung for cooking and so on. There is no TV, fan etc in the village (although they can afford it). Children study under the kerosene lamps in unhealthy conditions. Women try to finish their cooking etc before it gets dark in the evening.

Although the village is economically sound – Rampur has a good groundwater table and acres of cultivable land are being transformed into a model farm with multiple cropping (three crops in a year) – it is still backward with harsh living conditions and no electricity.

There is a lack of knowledge about the importance of education, water management, health and hygiene etc.

But then there came a ray of hope.

The village was electrified under the village energy security plan of Development Alternatives in collaboration with the Scatec Solar, a Norway based company to promote Solar Energy. The goal of the project was to provide electricity by tapping renewable energy (solar energy), as well as provide educational and training support to the villagers in the areas of Education, healthcare, raising agricultural productivity, and improving water management.

A Village Energy Committee has been formed with local people’s representatives plus experts actively involved in the development of the area. This committee plans, implements, monitors and controls the project activities. The committee is helping to construct, operate and maintain the center as well as to mobilize the rural masses for various community activities.

Sports equipments have been provided in school for the children by Development Alternatives.
The work on the power plant has been completed on a fast track and it was inaugurated on 26th Jan 2009.

So after this republic day Neetu and all her friends haven’t been studying under the kerosene lamp. They now study under CFL. Girija devi watches TV and has installed a fan to get relief from heat and mosquitoes.

But, still, there is a lot to be done.

There is a need of a program for the children specially girls to improve pre-school, middle school and high school education plus need for vocational training in skills development.

A need to teach villagers water management practices such as the use of holding ponds, provision of potable water, sustainable agricultural practices, and health services.

Rural transformation in India rests in the hands of women. You may have heard that if you give money to the woman of the house, she takes care of the family. If you give the same money to the man of the house (in rural India), the woman and children will see little of it.

The idea is to encourage and promote women empowerment by providing them basic necessities, resources and income generating skills that will go on to improve the quality of their life.

Article submitted by: Suman Raina. Thanks for your contribution!

Picture Courtesy: Scatec Solar

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