spare the farmers, largely women, from
walking long distances to fll gourds with
water to irrigate the felds. The women
now spend half as much time watering.
“Prior to our intervention, these felds
were largely barren during the six-month
dry period. Now, year-round they are
growing all kinds of leafy green vegetables,” Freling said.
The families consume about one-ffth
of the food; the remainder can generate
income. As a result of the solar project, the
women have gained both economic and
psychological strength, exhibiting optimism and a new entrepreneurial spirit,
according to Freling.
The organization has recently expanded
the pilot to eight additional villages in
Benin, and hopes the Solar Market Garden
will eventually become a model for the
In Haiti, energy giant NRG,
in partnership with Haitian
solar company ENERSA,
provided solar panels to
help power refrigerators so
that commercial fishermen
could keep their daily catch
fresher for a longer period.
This allowed them to sell
their fish at market prices
rather than try to unload the
fish quickly before it spoiled.
Solar and Livelihood
In parts of Haiti, fshermen must travel far
out to sea in non-motorized boats because
the near-shore waters are overfshed. The
return back to shore with their catch can
be long. They must sell the fsh immedi-
ately or else it will spoil, since they have no power and therefore
no refrigeration. As a result, by the end of the day they are will-
ing to sell the fsh well below market prices.
NRG Energy, the largest independent generating company
in the U.S., is helping the fshermen as one of its many projects
in Haiti. (The company also has solarized medical facilities and
schools, as well as food production facilities.) NRG partnered
with ENERSA, a Haitian solar company, which offered the fshermen loans for electrifed freezers. With the new tool, the fshermen can develop better business models — and an important
source of protein for Haiti does not go to waste.
“We have a lot of innovative technology. The real joy is translating
it in such a way that it works for that culture so that it can thrive,”
said Jennifer Brunelle, head of global giving for NRG Energy.