“…these people tell their own, little histories, and big history is told along the way”
Nobel Lecture by Svetlana Alexievič, Nobel prize for literature 2015
Energy is essential for development, and water is essential for life. Energia per Lo Sviluppo – EPS (Energy for Development) was founded in 2011 near Florence (Italy) by Fabrizio Chelli with the objective to provide energy to rural communities in Senegal. But what has happened in reality is that Fabrizio not only brought light to the rural communities, but he also started a virtuous circle bringing water, increasing agricultural output and creating better jobs and health.
"The first and biggest satisfaction…was to read in people's eyes the happiness of being able to use our installations. The children were intrigued because they had never seen the light of a lamp before. On our first mission the citizens of a village where we intervened, led us in a nearby town with no electricity at evening. The stark contrast of the two villages remain with me till today, it gave us a practical understanding of the relevance of our work that I shall never forget" recalls Fabrizio.
EPS now operates in Senegal, where it has installed 36 photovoltaics in 36 rural villages in the Municipality of Medina Dakhar. The villages, which were previously completely without electricity, were finally able to see ‘a new light’ and to revive during night hours thanks to EPS’s intervention.
In 2013 the usage of photovoltaics allowed for the restoration of two pre-existing manual wells, previously unusable because of their poor extraction capacity. After having undertaken a careful analysis of the territory’s morphology, necessities and technologies, a team composed by Italian and local technicians installed a photovoltaic system on each well. The well, fueled by an unlimited renewable energy source with no cost, now allows the irrigation of 5000sqm of cultivable land. The entire farmland, divided into six portions (one per village), is served by three tanks filled from the well through a drip irrigation system.
The management of agricultural activities is thus entrusted to a local community of women per each village, specifically trained by a local agronomist, partner with EPS. It is up to them to decide the most suitable crops, not only for subsistence but also to be sold on the market and on new selling channels yet to be investigated. The project therefore not only targets the economic development, but also a real action on women and local empowerment.
Given the initiative’s success and replicability, EPS has started working on five other wells following the models of those already realised, in full respect of the social and environmental equilibrium.
Not only energy for development, then... but also water for life!
Fabrizio Chelli founded EPS to honor the memory of his dear friend Carlo Zangarelli.