Solar Enlighten and Community Empowerment Project (SECEP) is a completely new dimension of intervention by KMWSC at Manmathnagar village .
Manmathnagar is an island, situated in Gosaba block under Canning Sub Division. Gosaba is one of the main deltaic islands in the Sundarban region in district of South 24 Parganas. It is the last inhibited island ending before 7 Km ahead of Sundarban – the world’s famous and largest mangrove forest
The Project has been implemented in Gosaba Block in South 24 Parganas to create awareness on solar and other alternative sources of energies and by providing solar lanterns and other educational support to the children and women of downtrodden families of the villages. 145 children are getting education support in 4 learning centers and 600 community people those who do not have electricity connection, were given solar lights that included children and village women. The village of Manmathnagar consists of 40000 people. we have four learning centers in four directions of the village which benefited more than 200 children. The project started in August 2014 and provided learning support and solar lights to children and village women.
We have 4 locals who have been trained as teachers and they prepare children for mainstreaming into schools as well as provide coaching support after schools to the children. Besides teachers training, they have been provided training on making of solar lights from Seva Kendra Calcutta and training on Self Help Group formation.
Geographically, Manmathanagar village is an extreme backward village with no access to electricity, no proper roads, no proper transport facilities and no safe drinking water. The people of the village live in abject poverty- in crumbling mud huts, with no safe sanitation. The villages are connected with mud built roads. During the rainy season it is highly risky to commute in the village. Often the villages are struck by the natural calamities.
One of the major concerns is alcoholism which affects many families. It is locally made and is available at very cheap rate. They also exchange it with other crops. Facilities for health and hygiene are in poor condition and medical facilities are beyond the reach of the poor people.
Due to lack of job opportunities number of males migrate to the city of Kolkata or other states in search of odd jobs. Within the village, main professions is cultivation, cycling pedal vans, selling crabs in the local market, catching fish and some work as share-croppers in other’s firm land. These share-croppers do not possess any firm land personally; they work in other’s firm land. Out of total production of crops, they give a substantial quantity to the owners and they sell out the remaining quantity to meet their family expenses and needs.
Continuous inhalation of the kerosene gas is very harmful for lungs women and children are affected easily. Thus besides the much needed educational support, we aim to build awareness on the usefulness of solar energy, biomass energy and solar lights – initially by providing the solar lights to each child so that they can study. 500 solar lanterns have been distributed till date in the community which has helped them in continuing their day to day tasks after sunset, children are able to study, men are able to continue to weave fishing net and mothers are able to cook meals with the same light. After intervention of three years in Manmathnagar village KMWSC has conducted need based assessments in the village. After identifying the findings and problems KMWSC has taken new initiatives on installation and construction of improved cooking stoves in the village besides the solar work. To start with 13 local men and women were trained from 28th October to 6 November 2017 in collaboration with SAMUCHIT enviro tech, Pune who provided training support to the staff of KMWSC. 80% there will be no smoke with this new cooking stove, cooking will be faster with less firewood.
We hope to reach out to other islands with solar light intervention and construction of smokeless chulas/ improved cooking stoves.
This initiative gives them the opportunity to generate alternative income through assembling solar lamps and constructing smokeless chulas.
We also aim to promote self help group and women’s group in the days to come.