WWF discusses social problems of lack of energy in isolated regions, focusing on the Amazon
Clean and affordable energy is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (ODS). But even today, there are around 1 billion people in the world who do not have access to electricity, and one million of them live in Brazil, especially in the Amazon. They are indigenous and riverside peoples who face the challenge of living without energy. When possible, they spend the little money they have on supplying generators with diesel or gasoline.
Aiming to discuss the challenges and opportunities of electric generation in isolated and remote regions, WWF International will organize the event Unravelling the mystery towards green and universal energy access for the last mile areas. It will take place on December 14 at the COP24 Panda Pavilion (Katowice, Poland), at 10 am local time (10 AM CET too) and will be broadcasted online.
The event, which takes place on the last day of the 24th United Nations Climate Conference, will be attended by the coordinator of the WWF-Brazil Climate Change and Energy Program, André Nahur, and representatives from different parts of the world who will examples of the challenges and problems experienced by communities that do not have access to the electricity grid, the so-called last mile areas.
In Brazil, most of the communities that are not connected to the grid are in the Amazon. There are thousands of Brazilians, riverside or indigenous people, who suffer from the economic and social problems caused by the lack of electricity. An example is access and the quality of water, as they typically have to carry it in buckets from rivers or streams because of a lack of pumps. In addition to fatigue and the unsuitability of drinking water at warm temperatures, water collection without filtration causes several diseases, especially diarrhea, which is prevalent in the region.
"Those who do not have energy sleep at 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. in the heat, and under the mosquito net, to protect themselves" says Antonia Lopes, 22, one of the residents of the Middle Purus Resex, in the south of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Antônia is one of the participants in the video and of the digital platform of the project Resex Solar - Extractive Reserves Production of Clean Energy The platform was created by WWF-Brazil and ICMBio (part of Environment Ministry), with the support of several organizations, whose launch will be during the event at COP24.
Story Map and Video Resex Solar
Resex Solar is a pilot project that began in 2016 to supply solar energy to extractive reserves in southern Amazonia and to empower residents to install and maintain solar systems to help local production as a way to improve their quality of life and to combat deforestation.
"If communities have electricity to use in cassava production, fruit pulp processing, fish refrigeration and ice making, as well as night lighting for handicraft and education activities, residents will remain in their reserves, increase income with the diversification of products and gain in quality of life and health. They are guardians of the forest already and will work even harder to combat illegal deforestation in their region," says WWF-Brazil’s analyst Alessandra Mathyas, the project leader.
A large proportion of the photovoltaic systems installed came from a donation of solar equipment from the Ministry of Mines and Energy. These products were purchased in the 1990s and are still functioning although not used. WWF-Brazil was one of the organizations that won the public bidding process and the batch received, with 300 panels (one of the parts of the system), and other equipment was fully sent to Labrea, the city where the Resex Medium Purus and Ituxi are. To date, 20 systems have been installed in different communities, making possible night time teaching and monitoring of the Amazonian tortoises – in addition to the pumping of water for extractive production.
The choice of electric systems with photovoltaic solar energy for productive use was made by the beneficiary extractive associations themselves and included water pumping for cassava production and protection with management of chelonians (tortoises, turtles and the like), lighting for schools and community centers and energy for fruit pulping and refrigeration, enabling the sale of extractive products.
According to the Coordinator of Policies and Traditional Communities of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMbio), Mara Carvalho Nottingham, clean energy brings real alternatives for the diversification of extractive activities carried out by residents of the Resex, and is fundamental for reducing illegal deforestation, which often because of the absolute lack of economic opportunities and subsistence of traditional populations.
A study conducted in 2015 by ICMBio and the Federal University of Viçosa revealed that the average income per capita in these Resex is R$ 465 (about US$ 120) per month. According to the residents fuel, whether for the generator or to power boats, is the main expense of the families of the Resex.
"The Resex Solar project was inspired by similar initiatives of partner organizations present in the Amazon, and seeks to serve as inspiration to subsidize public policies in the area of energy, showing that solar energy, in addition to generating less noise and pollution, provides economic and social gains for families living remotely," says Alessandra Mathyas.
The event unravels the mystery towards green and universal energy access for the last mile areas happens on December 14, at 10 am local time (same time in CET) and will be broadcast live on WWF's International Climate and Energy page on Facebook. The storyboard and videos of the Resex Solar project will be available in Portuguese, Spanish and English at wwf.org.br/resexsolar.