Sometimes the greatest inventions come out of necessity. We have just finished editing a spot on the “Pueblos Solares” or in English “Solar Communities” that are popping up in a few select places in South America.
photo via here everywhere
This story takes place in an area of Northern Puna in Argentina, 15,000 ft above sea level. This high plateau part of the Andes mountain range is very dry, especially on this crisp winter day. The sky is a bluebird hue, and a brisk wind rustles the stiff grasses across the plains. An Andean mother, bundled in colorful woven wear, heads out into the cold desert morning hunting for sticks and wood for the days cooking and washing. A herd of llamas looks on, uninterested at the mornings bustle from the village. At this altitude, the trees are but shrubs, and years of wood gathering has led to desertification that without care, may not return. She searches for miles, and returns with just a small bundle of twigs and grasses, not even enough to get her water boiling.
This is a reality for many people across the world. Deforestation caused by the need for charcoal and wood for fuel – to just purify water, warm their homes a bit and cook a thin soup for their family. Resulting in poor health and sad living conditions for the humans, and no trees, shelter or protection from nature.
These characteristics of this region, with some of the most radiation in the world, along with the plateau of Bolivia and the plateaus of Tibet and Afghanistan, are very suitable to explore the solar energy.
Enter Foundation EcoAndina, a group looking to better community living, maintain cultural lifestyles, as well as reduce impact on the environment by installing low cost solar cookers for families and for the communities. They also install solar panels for heating in classrooms and hospitals. It is an amazing feat, yet first hand, you can see the positive impact that it is having on these remote villages.
For the time being, the initiatives limit themselves to providing energy and heat to the ovens, community centers and schools, but this ambitions hopes grow.
According to EcoAndina, impels the idea of the generating electricity to the whole aread of Jujuy, without risk of contamination or deforestation, and almost without costs of generation…
I am eager to see where EcoAndina can reach in the future, and even more so how it affects these communities.
So far, the town of Puna has purified water, a warm place to learn and most of all, the smiles on those mother’s faces as they served up a delicious hot high altitude breakfast, kissed by the sun, made my heart warm as much as those reflective solar cookers.