Haiti Empowers Rural Residents With Solar Kits

President Martelly hopes that a new program will provide 200,000 Haitians with power over the next two years.

Posted: 01/24/2012 03:21 PM EST
Michel Martelly

Thousands of rural Haitian households will soon have access to electricity through the distribution of low-cost loans that will be used to purchase solar energy kits under a new plan announced by Haiti’s president Michel Martelly Monday.


"If a country wants to talk about development it's imperative to talk about energy and electricity," Martelly told reporters in downtown Port-au-Prince, according to the Associated Press.


The program, named "Give me light, give me life," is slated to begin immediately and aims to help Haitians living in rural areas build credit by taking out small loans that can be used to buy solar kits to help light their homes. In addition to small personal loans, the program will also enable municipalities to apply for credit that will make way for the installation of solar-powered streetlights.


Energy concerns have become paramount in Haiti since a massive earthquake hit the country in 2010, virtually demolishing most of the country’s infrastructure. Although the entire country is in need of recovery assistance, the Haitian government chose to extend the energy-related loans to citizens living in the Grand-Anse, the mountainous tip of the western peninsula, and the Northwest province — two of the most remote areas of the country.


Speaking about the decision to focus on rural families, Rene Jean-Jumeau, Haiti’s Secretary of State of Energy, said, "We feel they have less access than the rest of the country.”


Over the next two years, the ambitious project aims at providing 200,000 Haitians with power.


“In the long term, we want to provide electricity throughout the country, to help create jobs, help people create wealth through businesses, help to strengthen safety and allowed to enter definitely on the path of development,” Martelly told Haiti Libre.


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(Photo: REUTERS/Swoan Parker)

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