In 2016 the Provincial Government of Palawan launched a Solar lighting program as a key measure to address unmet power demand. Close to 30,000 d.light Solar home systems were distributed across to Island province with priority given to off-grid and indigenous communities.
Two years after we went back to visit some of these villages to see if their lives have indeed been impacted by this effort.
We started with the coastal village of Sto. Niño, where the villagers we spoke to said they have had the system for years now, and that these have so far outlasted many other solar products they’ve had. They use these systems to charge their mobile phones and to keep the lights on all night to discourage thieves.
The village chief said that the d.light systems were quite good. Not only do these provide lighting for homes, but the lantern that came with it can be used at night to catch crabs, squid, and fish for food.
We then moved upland into the mountains of Sitio Daan. The travel was expectedly rough, and at one of the outposts we came across a sign that said blood testing for malaria was offered. The jungles of Palawan have been notorious for the highly infectious and deadly disease. The roads were not easy, and at some point we had to continue into the jungle on foot. Then out of nowhere, a clearing will reveal houses of tribal villagers. We saw familiar solar panels on the roofs. One of the villagers was kind enough to let us enter in to her home and provide us with a demonstration of how her solar home system works.
It was evident that the d. light systems so far lasted this long and had provided communities with basic power needs allowing the villagers to protect their livelihood, children to study at night and families to bond. Close to a hundred thousand households in Palawan continue to live beyond the power grid, and they hope that the local government would continue the effort to energize their homes.