Plenty Belize and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are working at getting solar electricity in the remote villages of Machakilha and Graham Creek. Chief Executive Officer Valentino Shal and Minister of State Ramiro Ramirez were in the deep south over the weekend as the Ministry of Rural Development is supporting the project. Love News spoke with CEO Shal who explained that
Valentino Shal, CEO, Ministry of Rural Development: “We are lending our ministry’s support to that project because we believe it provides a lot of important benefits for the residents of those two communities in particular. They are the most remote village in the country and in the Toledo district as well and so when they ask for our endorsement we were more than happy to endorse the project so that they can access the funding but besides just endorsing the project we wanted to be there with them on the ground to support the project and so while they will be implementing most of the activities there are certain aspects that they will rely on us to provide support for the project to be completed. So we needed to go to the village and see what the situation is like and of course assure the community that Plenty Belize and the project has our full support. The project as I understand it from Plenty Belize will provide solar energy to each individual household in both communities so every house will be getting energy or electricity from solar installations that they will put up for each household. In addition in Machakil Ha they will install under the project a small water system which we will assist them with as well and so Machakil Ha will benefit from both electrification of the household but also a small water system for them.”
Once fully installed the residents will be required to pay a monthly fee. CEO Shal says it would not be much, but is necessary for continuous maintenance.
Valentino Shal, CEO, Ministry of Rural Development: “When you are promoting development you have to promote the empowerment of people so you don’t really want to make everything free. The panels will be provided but the villagers and the households are expected to provide labor to support the installation at their homes and talking to Plenty Belize I understand that if the households do not provide that labor to assist with the installation then the will have to pay a fee to cover that cost because it has a cost. And then monthly there will be a small fee so that they can have money in their account to maintain the panels and the system over the long term. It will not be expensive but I think it will be something that they can use to continuously maintain the system after the project has been completed.”
Reporter: And that would be paid in to Plenty Belize correct ?
Valentino Shal, CEO, Ministry of Rural Development: “No. This is where we come in. We, through the village council will establish a power board or a power committee and that committee is responsible for the oversight and the management of the solar panels and the village council through its committee will be responsible for the funds that are generated. And of course we provide supervision to both the council and the power board.”