Lighting up Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani communities
Thousands of off-grid households in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani are set to gain access to electricity, thanks to the 3,000 solar home system units coursed through South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (SOCOTECO II) under the Strengthening Off-grid Lighting with Appropriate Renewable Energy Solutions (SOLARES) project on April 19, 2021.
During the ceremonial turnover of the solar home units consisting of the system box, solar panel, and accessories (such as torch, radio, and bulbs), Mr. Martiniano L. Magdolot, SOLARES Project Director and Mahintana Foundation (MF) president, expressed his gratitude to the Sino Soar Hybrid (Beijing) Technology for supplying the units to SOCOTECO II, the Department of Energy, Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), and the European Union (EU) for funding and technical assistance.
In 2018, MF, PEF, EU, together with the electric cooperatives SOCOTECO II, and the Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative launched the SOLARES project to increase energy access in off-grid areas through installation of solar home lighting systems and access to livelihood and financing opportunities to 6,000 off-grid rural households in the two provinces. The local governments of the two provinces also provide technical assistance and local microfinance institutions (MFIs) help finance livelihood projects of the communities.
Livelihood for the beneficiaries
Complementing the solar home systems component, PEF will provide livelihood opportunities to the communities in beneficiary areas.
“We have already released loans for the livelihood projects of the farming communities in the municipalities of Lebak, Kalamansig, Maasim, Maitum, and Kiamba that will benefit more than 700 households,” PEF Area Officer Shunie Pearl Palacios said.
PEF also conducted a series of coaching and mentoring sessions on financial management to six partner MFIs and cooperatives in the said areas.
“The SOLARES project aims to reduce “energy poverty” in Mindanao. PEF believes that it is equally important for these communities to gain more access to income opportunities for them to be self-sustaining and resilient.”