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Haiti: solar-powered safety

IDB-GEF green energy project improves public lighting in two camps for earthquake victims

Insufficient public lighting is a major concern in Haiti’s camps for earthquake victims, as darkness provides cover for criminals preying on residents. In the months following the quake, as sexual assaults and robberies mounted, some camp managers resorted to curfews to try to curb violence.

A green energy project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility has brought a measure of relief to two of the largest settlements in Port-au-Prince by installing solar-powered street lamps.

In response to a request from Haitian authorities, the IDB allocated resources from the project, initially intended to promote the use of solar-powered energy in the countryside, to improving public lighting in the camps, Caradeux and Petionville Club. The IDB and GEF have contributed $1.5 million in grants to the broader green energy project.

A Haitian company, Green Energy Solutions, won a contract to install the solar lighting equipment in both camps. Between July and September of this year they put up 68 lamp posts in Caradeux, which has some 40,000 people, and 32 lamp posts in Petionville Club, which has about 25,000 people.

Reported incidents of violent crimes started dropping sharply as lamps were installed and lighting conditions improved, according to data provided by the project’s executing agency, the NGO Solar Electric Light Fund.

A second phase of the green energy project will be carried out over the next few months, with the installation of photovoltaic systems in 12 hospitals and health posts in southwestern Haiti. As part of the project, local electricians will be trained to be able to maintain and repair solar-powered equipment.

“As an engineer, I am enthusiastic about this project because Haiti has a huge potential to harness solar power,” said Kenol Pierre Thys, the IDB’s project manager. “As a Haitian, I am glad this technology is helping improve the living conditions of the people who have suffered the most.”