June 01, 2020
Narotoli, India – solar street lighting with Smart Power India to make a significant improvement in the quality of life, economy, and safety of villagers.
Narotoli is a small tribal village in Gumla District of Jharkhand, home to approximately one hundred households. In 2016, the village experienced electricity and lighting for the first time through MLINDA mini-grids under the Smart Power Rural Development Program supported by Rockefeller Foundation.
Narotoli observed changes in their lifestyle through a reliable power supply to their households, agriculture, and micro-enterprises. However, Som Khadiya, the village head of Narotoli continued to look for opportunities to address other unmet lighting needs.
Every Sunday, Som would invite villagers to a community center to discuss their ideas for the village’s development. Street lighting surfaced as a priority for many of the women.
Women and children felt unsafe to venture outside after dark as there was no outdoor lighting. Furthermore, a lack of exterior lighting essentially ended residents’ productive day at sunset. Villagers also highlighted the threat of encountering wild animals in the village during dark evenings, as Narotoli is very close to the forest.
With much effort by Som, Narotoli village was granted two streetlights from the government. Unfortunately, these required constant maintenance and repair.
The need for outdoor lighting was brought to the attention of Brajesh, who oversees the mini-grids providing solar power to businesses and households in the village. Brajesh and his colleagues, in turn, conveyed this need to the Smart Power India team who created a larger program to provide 81 villages with street lighting, funded by Signify Foundation as part of their partnership.
A special meeting was called by Som to inform the villagers that the streetlights would be supported with maintenance by the MLINDA team for the next five years.
During the meeting, a group of villagers was selected to work with the MLINDA team to select the installation sites for the streetlights. They decided, in consultation with the wider community, to light major junctions, the village entrance, community centers such as the church, and the children’s playing area.
The villagers were very excited about their involvement in this project and everyone felt connected to the mission.