No More Candles & Kerosene Lamps As Solar Engineer Shines Light On Fijian Village

Having installed solar power into the 60 homes in her village, ‘solar granny’, Lautani Nabua of Waikubukubu Village in Tavua, has taken her green initiative a step further by sharing her skills on solar-electrification with the local women and youths.

“There are 300 people in Waikubukubu who now enjoy solar lights and so far I have also trained six women and youths on solar installation,” explained Nabua.

“We even have a solar committee in the village that helps me to carry out the maintenance work. We have done away with the candles and kerosene lamps. The children now have the freedom to study for longer hours and even in the women’s centre we have two solar bulbs. Women usually love to do their weaving, sewing and baking even at night.

“Being the solar engineer has earned me a higher status in my community and especially being a grandmother, my families look up to me.”

The Waikubukubu turaga-ni-koro (village headmen), Peceli Natusoro, said that solar energy is convenient source of energy in remote villages like Waikubukubu: “We didn’t have any lights till last year when our solar granny put her skills to use that gave us access to a system that is cost effective and easy to manage.”

In 2012, the Ministry of Women and Barefoot College identified 10 women aged 45 and 60 to undergo six months of solar electrification training at the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India. Following their return, these engineers organized solar-electrifications for their respective villages in Fiji.

The rollout of the solar-electrification has been conducted under the flagship of the Ministry of Women, the UN Women, Barefoot College and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas Network (FLAMMA).

To date, Barefoot College has provided training to over 52 countries around the world and over 650 women have been trained as solar engineers – reaching more than 350,000 people worldwide.

There are plans in place to build a Regional Barefoot Centre in Fiji, through which more than 200 grandmothers from the Pacific island countries will be trained as solar engineers – enabling them to reach out to 10,000 people. The program is expected to save around one billion litres of kerosene.