Prominent E-Commerce based Asian direct selling company QNET announced a new project in partnership with the Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) through its social impact arm, the RYTHM Foundation, to bring solar energy to remote tribal communities in the state of Meghalaya and upgrade the healthcare infrastructure in Meghalaya.
The project titled, ‘Empowering North-East India’ aims to bring electricity to 470 villages and solar power to a primary healthcare centre catering to over 23,000 residents in the region. In the first phase, RYTHM Foundation has pledged its support to the project for a period of one year.
GHE has been working since 2013 to improve living conditions in remote rural communities in the Himalayan mountain ranges by providing them with access to clean energy and education. Many of these communities are off-the-grid and accessible only through treacherous terrain. GHE’s objective is to empower and improve the lives of these communities by implementing technological solutions in a sustainable, scalable, and environmentally beneficial manner.
Previously, RYTHM Foundation has partnered with GHE to bring solar energy to the village of Rongdo in Ladakh and has enabled digital education access to schools in Skagyam and Sato villages, also in the remote Himalayan region of Ladakh.
In order to address the lack of energy access and healthcare facilities in the tribal villages in Meghalaya, GHE and RYTHM Foundation embarked on this new partnership that takes a two-pronged approach that will bring solar electricity to these remote tribal communities and help upgrade the healthcare infrastructure in the area.
The pandemic has made this an urgent priority since the healthcare centres in the area have been essential in COVID-19 treatment and vaccine delivery for these villages. With access to electricity, expected outcomes include a significant decrease in infant mortality rate as well as a decline in the number of deaths due to lack of access to critical care equipment.
The Empowering North-East India project is a holistic development plan for the tribal communities in Meghalaya with the aim of creating a community-owned model that can run independently in the long run. The technology involved in this project is a simple plug and play solar micro-grid solution that is installed in each home. Every house gets a solar panel with a battery pack that is wired with high-performance LED lights, low energy consumption motor fans, and mobile charging facilities. The grids are also capable of taking on any additional load.
“There is no grid line. Each home produces and consumes its own energy. The future of electricity is becoming grid-independent so that household access to power is not susceptible to hurricanes, rainfall, or any other weather-related incidents,” explains Jaideep Bansal, the chief operating officer of the Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE).
GHE trained engineers will install the grid and provide maintenance support. However, to ensure sustainability, the organisation will also train villagers and equip them with the basics of solar grid maintenance and troubleshooting.
Commenting on the project, Malou Caluza, CEO of QNET said, “At QNET, we live by the core philosophy of RYTHM, which stands for Raise Yourself To Help Mankind. In its simplest form, RYTHM is about empowering people so that they not only strive to become their best selves but also make a difference in their communities. QNET’s CSR arm, RYTHM Foundation strives to fund and support projects that have a long-term transformational impact in underserved communities. Through the Empowering North-East project, we hope to drive change in the remote villages of Meghalaya, by empowering them with access to electricity which has a direct impact on education, health, comfort, productivity and more, leading to improved living standards.
The villagers are also required to open a community bank account with every household contributing Rs. 100 monthly. These funds will be used for any maintenance, servicing or troubleshooting of the grid and will be managed by a Village Electricity Management Committee established by the villagers.
Commenting on the ongoing partnership with RYTHM Foundation, Jaideep Bansal said, “I think it’s great to have partners like RYTHM who recognise the need to serve the most underprivileged areas. Many other partners want to support projects only in well-known or more accessible locations, but in our experience with RYTHM, it’s really about reaching OUT to those who’ve been forgotten, places where nobody else goes. I think this speaks volumes about the kind of commitment RYTHM has towards bringing holistic, sustainable development to underserved communities.”
So far, GHE has successfully brought solar electricity to more than 150 villages in 5 regions across India, directly impacting over 100,000 lives.