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VSO/Peter Caton

Empowering women and powering communities

Solar Mama rural electrification project

The Solar Mama rural electrification project is simultaneously bringing electricity to rural communities, and empowering women in those communities through education and training.

Lines Nguluwe, Solar Mama VSO/Peter Caton

Lines Nguluwe makes mandazi [donuts] before sunrise using her new solar lighting system. She sells these during the day and also has a new form of income charging people's phones at her home. She's one of a hundred households to benefit from a cost-free source of electric power installed by the Solar Mamas trained in her neighbourhood.

The Solar Mama rural electrification project is simultaneously bringing electricity to rural communities, and empowering women in those communities through education and training.

The project provides livelihoods for marginalised communities, but also empowerment for marginalised women within those communities.

In this project semi-illiterate women who had failed to complete primary school were trained as solar engineers and are now installing and maintaining solar equipment in two cluster communities.

The impact of the project has built self-esteem and self-reliance and a changed perception of women’s roles in the community.

The women were selected from eight villages in Lilongwe rural west in Malawi and trained as solar engineers. They learnt how to build and maintain solar powered lighting and generators, bringing sustainable, low cost energy to their communities.

The mamas are paid by the community to build and maintain the systems. They get a steady stream of income while saving their communities money on items like batteries and candles and providing them with lighting for the evenings and, essentially, more hours in the day.

Here in the village, people expect women to just be at home, cooking for the family, ensuring the kids are fed and wearing clean clothes. Now, people are starting to change their perception towards us.

Eililoy Kamwendo, 62, Solar Mama


Case studies


Our partners

Solar Mamas is a VSO project made possible thrugh our partnership with Barefoot College and support by UK Aid through Volunteering for Development


Contact us

Find out more about partnering with VSO Malawi by contacting vsomalawi@vsoint.org.

Location:

VSO Malawi
Private Bag B 300
Capital City, Lilongwe 3
Malawi
Tel: +265 1 795 499, +265 1 795 492, +265 1 795 494.
 

More information