One of the most financially poor States in India is Odisha- where 91% of the population resides in villages, and 39% belongs to tribal communities where the average daily income is below $1. Mahashakti Foundation covers six of the most underserved districts here.
Villages in these districts, such as Subarnapur despite being on the grid, face frequent power cuts on a daily basis. On any given day, there is no electricity for 4-5 hours. Naturally, this means that many more challenges for the residents. The most discernible of these include their inability to cook food post sunset, children having to finish up with their studies before 5 in the evening, hawkers packing up and the high expenditure on kerosene lamps. The lesser obvious ones include wild animals entering the village causing havoc and the sick not getting proper treatment due to lack of visibility. Against this backdrop, Mahashakti Foundation started a Solar Energy programme in 2012. Mahashakti builds and operates micro-grids, solar lights, charging stations and improved smoke-free cookstoves. Solar powered lighting has improved the general quality of life in the region. The beneficiaries have reduced expenses on traditional sources of lighting such as kerosene, increased economic activity through extension of working hours, fewer health issues arising from toxic kerosene and cow-dung fumes, and higher literacy rates as children can study after sunset.
Milaap partners with Mahashakti Foundation and Lendahand to bridge the need for financing to fund their projects. They currently need funds to take one step further and increase their reach to cover more energy deficient districts across the State. Milaap and Mahashakti Foundation are working towards making solar lighting affordable and available to households in rural Odisha. Through the current project, 600 families will gain access to a clean and efficient source of lighting- solar lanterns and help them overcome some of their current struggles.
Local partner Milaap provides a loan to the Mahashakti Foundation that must be repaid within 24 months.