UN Environment Program (UNEP) has collaborated with Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and National Skill Development Council (NSDC)  to develop 15,000 Grassroot Women Solar Technicians across India.

Key points:

  1. NSDC-UNEP-SEWA collaborate to generate Sustainable Livelihoods for Agaria women of Salt Pan Worker’s community from the Little Rann Of Kutch in the Indian state of Gujarat.
  2. The collaboration will train 15000 rural women to become Solar Technicians.
  3. This is on similar lines as UNEP’s global “Empower Program” which is being implemented in Bangladesh, Vietnam And Cambodia

In 2012, SEWA introduced solar pumps to lower the production costs and provide a clean energy option to the salt pan workers in the Little Rann of Kutch. Since then, SEWA has replaced more than 1500 diesel pumps with hybrid solar pumps. This has further enabled salt farmers to increase their incomes by halving the expenditure on diesel and increasing salt production by approximately 15 percent. This has also reduced the carbon footprint of the value chain.

Also read: Women Opt Out Of Workforce For Unpaid Care Work: Economic Survey

SEWA plans to upscale this initiative to about 20,000 solar pumps as well as to set up a Solar Park with a capacity of 2.7 megawatts in the coming five years. In order to address the challenge posed by timely maintenance of solar pumps in remote locations in the long-term, SEWA in collaboration with ESSCI and UNEP is aiming to train young women with the technical and entrepreneurial skills to develop a cadre of 15000 solar technicians to further scale up and provide proper services to rural households.

In 2012, SEWA introduced solar pumps to lower the production costs and provide a clean energy option to the salt pan workers in the Little Rann of Kutch.

The project will be supported by the Electronics Sector Skills Council of India (ESSCI) and National Skill Development Council (NSDC). SEWA’s sister concern, Grassroot Trading Network (GTN) will take the lead in implementation. UNEP will leverage its experience and expertise in implementing similar programmes, particularly the Empower programme being implemented in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh and will provide services like mentoring and, capacity and knowledge support, for viable developing business models.

“This collaboration will provide green livelihoods to about 15000 poor rural women members of SEWA. The young women who will be trained as solar technicians and will get livelihood opportunities within a radius of 100 miles of their homes. These solar entrepreneurs will be the leaders in spreading the movement of clean energy and climate change mitigation.

This will help nurture the rural economy by developing new livelihood opportunities and on other hand addressing the challenges of salt pan workers, and small and marginal farmers who had to travel to the nearby towns for technicians who would take days for repair, which would reduce their working days, production and income. The project will deliver several development benefits, such as promoting rural employment, promotion of renewable energy movement and its solutions and improving the environment conservation,” Reema Nanavaty SEWA Director said.

With a member base of around 1.9 million poor women and presence in 18 States of India, SEWA is one of the world’s largest organizations for women in the rural informal sector and has been working tirelessly for the last four decades to organise women from the informal sector and build their supply chains.

Mr Atul Bagai, Head United Nations Environment Program-India office, who is heading this project, stated the idea behind this project. He said, “Women are torchbearers of their families. If they decide to work for the environment, then future generations are also in sync with the vision.”

Also read: SEWA Helps Rural Women Enlist Homes For Guests On AirBNB

“The Agaria women of the salt pan workers community in Gujrat are an inspiration to rural women across the world who are staying in difficult geographical conditions. As they adopt and adapt solar energy, the message is clear…its time that individuals cut across all borders-social, physical and economical to embrace the issue of environment,” he added.

This collaboration will provide green livelihoods to about 15000 poor rural women members of SEWA. The young women who will be trained as solar technicians and will get livelihood opportunities within a radius of 100 miles of their homes.

Renata Dessallien, UN Resident Coordinator in India while visiting SEWA headquarters in Gujrat said, “I congratulate the United Nations Environment Program-India Office and the Electronics Sector Skill Council of India for their new partnership with SEWA that aims to fuel India’s renewable energy revolution through the leadership of women. Through this initiative, we aim to build capacities of 15,000 rural women as solar entrepreneurs and technicians. This will reduce the carbon footprint, fully leverage the solar potential of the region, and create more jobs and dignified livelihoods for women.”

Picture credit- UN

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.