Native Women Bring Solar Energy to Chile’s Atacama Desert

Marianela Jarroud – IPS – Monday, 18 March 2013 (originally published 13 Mar)

Five Chilean women sitting at a board table
The five Chilean women, before heading to the Barefoot College in India. Credit: Courtesy of National Women’s Service

SANTIAGO, Mar 13 2013 (IPS) – Three indigenous communities from the Chilean highlands have just received solar panels, which will be set up and maintained by unlikely solar engineers: five native women who travelled halfway around the world to India and overcame language and other barriers to bring photovoltaic energy to their villages.

Luisa and Liliana Terán are cousins from Caspana, an Atacameña indigenous community; Elena Achú and Elvira Urrelo are from the Quechua village of Ollagüe; and Nicolasa Yufla is an Aymara Indian from Toconce. The three villages, with a combined population of 1,000, are in the Atacama desert.

Water is scarce and there is no electricity in their villages, located more than 3,000 metres above sea level in the Chilean altiplano, near the Bolivian border . . .

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