December 10, 2012
The U.S. Agency for International Development-funded ProParque project has begun promoting alternative energy in Honduras by working with vocational education centers, entrepreneurs, and microenterprises all located near 10 of the country’s national parks.
The project, implemented by DAI, focuses on economic growth and biodiversity conservation and works closely with the national parks. The goal of the recent initiative is to spread the use of alternative energy to save the parks from environmental degradation and help the local communities see the economic benefit of doing so.
The first phase, undertaken with project partners—including the Institute for Professional Training, local solar energy service provider SOLARIS, the Honduran Association for Development, and Zamorano University—trained 86 entrepreneurs on how to build less-polluting cooking stoves and install solar panels in homes, schools, and community centers.
A second phase, scheduled for early 2013, will expand technical trainings into the areas of microhydro and biogas. The intensive training programs—combining technical theory, hands-on learning, and the transfer of practical business skills—conclude with oral and practical exams, including the preparation of a business plan by the participants and the installation of systems in up to three communities.
The most critical aspect of the initiative—linking the new microenterprises with the market—is already beginning to bear fruit. Three technicians, Wilson Rodríguez, Albert Fúnez, and Nataly Díaz, have joined forces and been contracted by the municipality of Valle de Angeles, with funding of the Honduran Social Investment Fund, to install 24 solar systems in El Guayabo rural community near La Tigra National Park.
Benefiting almost 250 people, these small systems represent a first step toward the consolidation of a local, rural renewable energy service sector. ProParque staff conservatively estimate that project-assisted microenterprises could play a key role in the installation of more than 5,000 improved cooking stoves and 250 solar power installations within the next two years alone.
The majority of the world’s poor have no access to formal financial services. They must rely on friends and family to help them in hard times, or the proverbial mattress to save for a rainy day or to ensure they have enough to pay school fees.Read More