In April 2015, GRID Alternatives led a trip to Nicaragua with volunteers to install an off-grid photovoltaic system on a primary school in the community of Agua Fria. Agua Fria 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 only school in Agua Fria is an elementary school that consists of three rooms; two classrooms and a room for the teacher to sleep overnight. The school is used for many different purposes, including first through sixth grade classes, a technical program for students on the weekend, and an adult literacy program in the evenings. GRID volunteers installed a 1kW off-grid PV system on the school, bringing lights and AC electricity to the community to help improve the quality and access to education in Agua Fria.