Category Archives: Project

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As the largest country in Central America, Nicaragua has a relatively small population of 5.79 million people for its size. Following Haiti, Nicaragua is the poorest country in Latin America with a GDP per capita that is 56% lower than the world’s average. Poverty is mostly rural-related in which the majority of Nicaraguans living in these areas survive on little more than US $1 per day. These areas are vastly underdeveloped and rely on agriculture, straining the already exploited environment. As a result, the most vulnerable people are farmers living on isolated lands near the agricultural fields.

Due to recent droughts, 80% of Nicaraguans in rural regions don’t have access to clean water. Water-related diseases are the most common causes of illness and death among the poor in developing regions. We at USI understand the critical importance of clean water to the preservation of human health and strive to make clean water available to all Nicaraguans through photovoltaic applications.

Additionally, four out of five Nicaraguans in these areas don’t have access to electricity and turn to kerosene lanterns. The smoke from these kerosene lanterns is a fire danger and causes respiratory infections, lung and throat cancers. Kerosene is also a major barrier to education and production at night due to its poor efficiency. USI is working every day to implement photovoltaic systems that will displace kerosene lanterns and provide a lighting source that promotes education and production after the sun goes down.

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Each USI installation provides the basics for a rural community to grow out of poverty through electricity and clean water. USI works with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education to ensure that a teacher is present to lead adult literacy classes at night for every system that has LED lighting. On average, each community center is used by 60-80 children during the day and will be used by over 40 adults at night. Working with the Water Institute of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, USI will provide water pumping and sanitation technology that the entire community can utilize (over 200 people). Through these projects, USI is growing and improving the Nicaraguan solar industry by working alongside local companies to install systems that are safer and more robust.Finally, USI educates and trains community members about the importance of solar energy and the necessity to properly maintain the system. USI works with the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center to provide the most effective seminars and training.

USI identifies companies that are well recognized, trained, and qualified to perform the installation. USI will also utilize the assistance of skilled volunteer groups consisting of people working and studying within the solar industry. Volunteer assistance will be limited to preparing the installation, as only trained personnel will handle the electrical equipment. USI engineers will oversee the design of all systems, domestic and abroad, and will set very strict standards that must be followed by all subcontracted solar energy companies. Each system will be designed with sustainability, efficiency and economic feasibility in mind.

After the installation of the system and our analysis of the company is finished, our team works to identify solutions that will solve any problems and inefficiencies noticed throughout the project. USI will highlight a company’s best practices and offer changes to areas that could be improved in a timeframe that is realistic to the local economy. We compile a report for the company and meet with them one-on-one, working with them to set short-term and long-term goals to solve the problems we have identified.

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“Every minute a child dies of a water-related disease.” – Water.org

“World Vision reaches one new person with clean water every 30 seconds.” – WorldVision.org

In early 2015, USI and World Vision formed a partnership to bring power and clean water to communities all over the world. World Vision currently supports 2,000 water pumps throughout Africa, South America and East Asia providing clean water to a new person every 30 seconds. USI will solarize many of these pumps, replacing the hand crank or diesel fuel process with clean electric-powered pumps.

The partnership will combine the resources and know-how needed to change the way the poorest members of our global community gain access to clean water. Using state-of-the-art solar panel equipment, families in remote communities will be able to collect water from wells with minimal effort. Together, USI and World Vision form a 21st-Century solution that will lead the way as both a technology and partnership model addressing challenges the world can no longer afford to ignore.

“More than twice the U.S. population lives without access to safe water.” – Water.org

“The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation), and #8 based on likelihood (of occurring within 10 years).” – World Economic Forum 2015, Global Risks 2015 Report.

More on World Vision

Nearly 1,600 children under age 5 die every day from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation, and improper hygiene. Reaching one new person with clean water every 30 seconds, World Vision provides more people with clean water than any other nongovernmental organization. In October 2014, they reached their one-millionth person with clean water- a 10-year-old girl Fridah who dreams of being a pilot.

World Vision invests 15 years on average in each community they work with, giving these areas ownership and training in maintenance of water points so that water continues to flow long after our work concludes. Nearly 80% of water points continue to function at high levels even after 20 years of use according to an independent study by the UNC Water Institute. World Vision takes time to develop the best water source solution in each unique community, whether that means deep-drilled wells or shallow hand drilled wells or protecting a freshwater spring and rainwater collection. Mechanized pumps for much larger communities are also an option, diversifying and expanding World Vision’s impact and reach.

For more information on World Vision’s clean water impact, click here.

With your help, we will reach millions of people with clean water and energy solutions.