Exchange: Community Trainers for Renewable Energy Technology Use in Sustainable Food Production and Water Management

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The focus of this exchange activity is a social alliance and collective learning process between NGOs and rural communities from three regions of Colombia (Santander, Córdoba and Antioquia). It is based on the accumulated results achieved previously in a WISIONS supported project and ongoing community work in the field of renewable energy and sustainable livelihood strategies.

The previous experiences highlight the need to empower community-based organisations in order that they can gain hands-on experience, technical capacity and social acceptance in their rural localities to implement energy technologies according to specific needs and local contexts. Therefore, these organisations will now be directly engaged in the design and application of renewable energy technologies. The activity includes three exchange visits and workshops during a fifteen-month period, where fifteen selected community members will progressively gain the necessary practical knowledge to design and adapt solar and biogas technologies at community level. Follow-up exercises will then be carried out directly by the community trainers with social, technical and methodological support from the project team. The project also seeks to design community action plans for renewable energy technologies and strategies for future knowledge sharing with other thematic platforms, such as the biogas network RedBioCOL and campaigns for energy and food sovereignty. The specific objectives of this exchange activity are:

  • To present the proposed activities to the three regions and identify the fifteen community trainers
  • To carry out three national community trainer workshops (one in each region) and obtain socio-economic and environmental baseline data
  • Hands-on experience of community-trainers (participatory design, adaptation of technologies, implementation, follow-up) in each region
  • To design community action plans for ongoing networking activities
  • To analyse the socio-economic and environmental effects of the training and community action plans
The project will be led by CENSAT Agua Viva, in partnership with Fundaexpresión, Asprocig, the Collective of Community Forest Reserves of Santander and Otros Mundos Colombia. The project duration is fifteen months, starting in May 2016.

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The main objective was to link the concepts of energy sovereignty and food sovereignty using a two-pronged approach: the provision of hands-on capacity-building in sustainable energy technologies for food production and setting up a participatory dialogue among civil society organisations in Colombia.