P120 million to energize off-grid communities
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - July 27, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The European Union has allotted P120 million for Project Renewable Energy for Livelihood and Youth (RELY) that would energize off-grid communities in Cebu, Bohol, and Palawan starting last January 15, 2019 to July 14, 2021.

RELY is one of the seven awardees of EU-Access to Sustainable Energy Programme (ASEP) Call of Proposals.

 RELY aims to promote use of renewable energy to improve lives and foster climate change mitigation in poor and remote communities by energizing 16 off-grid public schools in these provinces.

The approach combines solar electrification with community development and improve vocational education by collaborating with partner senior high schools.

 The EU and project proponents sequa gGmbH, Vivant Foundation Inc. (VFI) and PROCESS-Bohol, a social development non-government organization,  led the launching yesterday wherein officials of local government units, Department of Energy, Department of Education, project partners and the EU signed a commitment of support to RELY.

 The EU support comes under ASEP, a joint undertaking of the DOE and EU, whose goal is to assist the Philippine government in expanding sustainable energy generation to meet growing economic needs and provide energy access to the poor and marginalized sector.

Sabine Schacknat, Project RELY director, said that the EU selected RELY from among the several proposals and chose to partner with VFI which already implemented a program that serves as basis for RELY in Bantayan, Cebu.

Under Project Liadlaw, VFI installed a 50-kilowatt peak rooftop solar at the Hilotongan Integrated School in an island barangay of Bantayan, Cebu.

To ensure sustainability of the off-grid energization project, VFI worked with DepEd and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to introduce an enhanced curriculum for the EIM track offering at the Bantayan Senior High School, which incorporates solar energy.

 Schacknat, in a statement, said that solar electrification of the schools is now accompanied by awareness raising activities on renewable energy and climate change for all stakeholders and by support to the communities in improving their livelihoods.

   "We are confident that bringing together schools, communities and the private sector will create great opportunities for rural development," Schacknat said.

 VFI executive director Shem Jose Garcia said that they are honored that the EU have shown their confidence in expanding their pilot project.

 Components of Project Liadlaw are replicated in RELY and expanded to involve the entire community wherein PROCESS-Bohol organizes trainings and workshops to promote understanding of renewable energy and enable beneficiaries to optimize the benefits that RELY brings to their areas.

   Aurelio Salgados Jr., executive director of PROCESS-Bohol, said that to make RELY sustainable they need to invoke community participation by conducting livelihood skills training and by supporting the micro, small, and medium enterprises to create opportunities for deserving students.

  Salgados added that these trainings include, but are not limited to, knowledge and skills transfer on livelihood that take advantage of solar energy.—  FPL (FREEMAN)

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