Women in Solar: El Guaylo, Esteli, Jan. 25-Feb. 1

In January 2015, GRID led a team of local, all-women volunteers in the installation of a 1kW off-grid photovoltaic system on a primary school in the community of El Guaylo, Esteli.  A part of GRID’s Women in Solar Initiative, this project gave Nicaraguan women interested in working in the growing renewable energy industry in Nicaragua a chance to gain experience installing a photovoltaic system. While there are many universities with renewable energy programs in Nicaragua, hands-on training opportunities are very rare.

El Guaylo is made up of four sectors: sector Buena Vista, sector Ramadas, sector Limones, and sector Centrico and is home to 261 people living in 58 houses.  Most of the homes use kerosene lamps to see at night which emit harmful gases, are flammable, and are expensive to use due to the cost of kerosene fuel and the time it takes to purchase fuel in a nearby town.  Most families also have flashlights that use AAA batteries that need to be replaced every two weeks. 

Agriculture is the main source of income in El Guaylo and local people cultivate wheat, corn and beans, and raise cattle.  There is a cell phone signal in this community and there is at least one cell phone in every house. Families recharge their cell phones in the community with the people that own a small solar system (seven homes) or in nearby town called Limay.  El Guaylo residents do have potable water in their homes.

The only school in El Guaylo is a two-building elementary school with a total of two classrooms.  There are three teachers who work at the school from Monday to Friday and teach 48 students from first to sixth grades.  On weekends the school is used to teach 33 high school students.

In the afternoon, the school is used to teach adult literacy through a distance-learning program called Yo Si Puedo.  The program is designed to use videos that support the curriculum, but the school has not been able to take advantage of this since the community has no electricity.  The school is also used for community meetings and is used when the Ministry of Health makes periodic visits to give vaccinations or medical check ups. 

View more photos of the project here!