In November 2015, GRID Alternatives led a team of volunteers to Nicaragua to install an off-grid PV system on a health clinic in the town of Agua Fria, Esteli. Volunteers worked in two groups to install the battery-based systems that brought lights and AC power to the rural health post called a “casa base”. The health post is used every week by the community to treat a range of injuries and illnesses since the closest hospital takes hours to walk to from each community. A volunteer health worker is on call at the health post and several times a year the post is used by health brigades that bring vaccines and other medical services to the community.
Agua Fria, Esteli is a small town located in the department of Esteli, Nicaragua. The community is made up of 159 people living in 30 houses and is 6km from the electric grid. There is a public bus that visits the community twice a week when the road is passable in the dry season.
Residents of Agua Fria do not have electricity and most use kerosene lamps or candles to see at night. While many families own a cell phone, there is not a strong signal in the community so people walk up a hill to find a spot that has enough reception to make or receive a call. The houses in Agua Fria do not have running water, but there is a well with potable water nearby where families haul water in buckets from the well to their houses. Laundry and bathing take place in a nearby river.
The main economic activity in the community is agriculture. Families grow wheat, corn and beans and some families also raise cattle. The crops are mainly consumed by the families that grow them, but some are sold at a local market for income.
The PV system the volunteers installed allows lights for medical consultations and electric appliances like nebulizers, fans, and other basic medical equipment to be used.
To see photos from this project please click here.