Northwestern Spain's University of Santiago de Compostela is leading a project to create "sustainable energy communities" in Colombia, providing free electricity to residents of La Primavera, a town in the so-called "FARC zone," officials said.
The region, in which the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group operates, does not have an electric grid and residents use diesel to run generators.
Residents of La Primavera, a town of 1,200, and some 2,500 Sikuanis Indians, who live around the town and keep out loggers and coca growers, now have free electricity for a senior center, a community center, dwellings and workshops.
The project, which is also being implemented in other places in Latin America and Africa with the assistance of local universities, is run by professor Angeles Lopez Aguera.
The project is a two-way learning experience, with scientists picking up knowledge from communities, Lopez Aguera told Efe.
Women in the Colombian town were producing magnificent traditional textiles, but they also wanted to make other types of garments.
Solar panels were installed in La Primavera to provide power for the workshops and residents were trained to maintain the equipment.
Residents now know how to maintain the batteries and panels, an essential step in making the project truly sustainable, Lopez Aguera said.
The team from the University of Santiago de Compostela is working with a cluster of universities in Africa and Latin America on similar projects.