Photo: An image from the film Bufferzone
This fall, rangers protecting rhinos, tigers and other endangered wildlife in Nepal’s famous Chitwan National Park will get a solar system that will light and power an isolated ranger outpost deep in the jungle. At the same time, local women will get the training and tools they need to sell low-cost clean energy technologies to people living in the buffer zone that surrounds the park. This is all part of continued collaboration in Nepal by Empowered by Light, which helps remote communities throughout the world develop renewable energy projects, and Empower Generation, which empowers women to become clean-energy entrepreneurs.
This project will continue the organizations’ efforts in Nepal, which are detailed in a fascinating 20-minute video, Bufferzone, that explores the unique challenges of living in a place where the wild animals that make the region unique — from tigers to sloth bears to elephants — can attract tourists, and can also attack villages and people.
“Remote communities around the world are embracing renewable energy because the benefits are real, immediate and life-changing,” said Moira Hanes, Empowered by Light’s co-founder and board chair. “In Nepal, renewable energy is providing these communities with steady, reliable access to electricity, in many cases for the first time, all while helping to support their critical efforts to protect endangered wildlife and create economic and job opportunities that weren’t there before.”
To help rural communities thrive without draining the park’s natural resources, this fall’s effort will train 10 local women, whose economic opportunities have traditionally been limited, to sell a range of clean energy technologies such as solar home systems and improved cookstoves.
Inside the park, rangers working to prevent poaching rely on solar power to stay in touch with park authorities and power spotlights that help protect them at night. On a previous visit, Empowered by Light also helped install solar power at tourist towers that allow visitors to stay in the park overnight, generating income for conservation projects and for people-protection efforts designed to minimize conflicts between villagers and wildlife.
Empowered by Light and Empower Generation are seeking to raise $50,000 to help support the new project, which will assist hard-working people in Nepal in their efforts to:
- Protect Chitwan National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Protect single-horned Asiatic rhinos and Bengal tigers from poachers
- Train Nepali women, who have a particularly difficult time securing formal employment, to sell clean energy and start their own businesses
- Reduce dependence on dirty and dangerous sources of energy, including diesel generators and kerosene burners that put the community’s health and safety at risk
- Kick-start eco-tourism in a place where economic development options are limited
Visit Empowered by Light’s website to learn more about the project in Nepal. If you’d like to make a direct impact and empower the protectors of Chitwan National Park, please consider donating via Empowered by Light’s Crowdrise fundraiser.