HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Who you gonna call? Grandma
Government has a bold plan to train three grandmothers to install solar panels on all 130 homes on Pukapuka.

As part of a project to install residential solar power units and a desalination plant in Pukapuka, an invitation has been extended to the Cook Islands government by a “Barefoot College” Advisor based in Switzerland, to send three grandmothers from Pukapuka on a six month training course at the College in India from September 2012 to March 2013, to learn how to install the solar units in individual homes and to install the first solar operated desalination plant.
The invitation is being handled by the Renewable Energy Division of the Office of the Prime Minister.
The project includes establishing a rural electronic workshop on Pukapuka to enable the women to carry out all major and minor repairs on the spot.
No certificates will be issued after training. That is to ensure the women do not leave for jobs elsewhere. This is important because at the end of six months training, the women will know more about the practicals of installation, fabrication, repair and maintenance than any graduate after 5 years of a University degree.
Interestingly, the written or spoken word will not be used during training, only sign language and a combination of sight and sounds.
Prior discussions with officials from the Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs, Finance and Education, endorsed the proposal for training and for Pukapuka as the best location for a desalination plant.
As to costs, the Indian government will cover all travel and accommodation costs as well as phone bills and medical costs. The UN WOMEN and GEF small grants programme will cover the costs of hardware and transportation to Pukapuka. This includes the cost of 40W solar panels, deep cycle battery, 3 CFL lights and one solar lantern for each of the 130 homes. The solar panels will be fitted to the roofs.
The three grandmothers from Pukapuka will be among 30 others selected from other Pacific nations and also South American and Middle Eastern countries.
The solar operated desalination plant will be the first of its kind in the Pacific, using Indian technology to produce 6,000 litres of potable water per day. Two grandmothers will be trained to install, repair, and maintain it with the solar and water engineers who will come from India. It is hoped to have the plant installed by August 2012.
In June a representative from the Barefoot College will arrive in the Cook Islands to assist with the necessary preparations.
Barefoot College
Established in 1972, the Barefoot College in India, is a non-government organisation that has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities, with the objective of making them self-sufficient and sustainable. These ‘Barefoot solutions’ can be broadly categorised into solar energy, water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development.
The College believes that for any rural development activity to be successful and sustainable, it must be based in the village as well as managed and owned by those whom it serves. Therefore, all Barefoot initiatives whether social, political or economic, are planned and implemented by a network of rural men and women who are known as ‘Barefoot Professionals’.-Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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