Projects in Brazil
19 projects completed
The Amazon Basin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, influences weather around the globe, and is home to thousands of unique indigenous communities, which rely on the region for their survival. All of us on Earth benefit from the region’s biodiversity. However, many indigenous communities are fighting to protect their territories from encroachment by illegal mining and farming operations--both of which have been destroying the rainforest at alarming rates in recent years.
3 projects completed
We recently completed solar microgrid installatons for two Asháninka communities (Yorenka Tasorentsi and Apiwtxa) on the Amonia River in the Brazilian Western Amazon in coordination with the local organization Fronteiras and ION Energia with generous support from the Schmidt Family Foundation.
The current situation in Brazil is extremely concerning for indigenous peoples, as deforestation rates and fires in the Amazon are at unprecedented highs, as is as the invasion and illegal occupation of public lands and the violation of human rights.
For decades the Asháninka people of Brazil (Apiwtxa) have played a vital role in ensuring indigenous guardianship over their land, and they have developed refined tactics to defend their lives, their culture, their territory and the forest. The remote Amazon region in which the Ashaninka reside, on the Brazil-Peru border, contains one of the world's last remaining areas of high biological diversity as well a several uncontacted indigenous communities, and indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation.
The off-grid solar system installed in the Apiwtxa community comprised of 73kW of solar and 198kWh of energy storage (batteries) powers 16 structures and directly benefits over 800 people.
A total of 55kW of solar and 69kWh of energy storage were installed at Yorenka Tasorentsi powering 11 structures, directly benefiting 60 people and benefiting hundreds more who visit the Institute annually for meetings and conferences. Although the Institute’s current consumption is ~45kWh/day, the on-grid solar system provides approximately 220kWh/day of energy to the electrical grid on an average day, so approximately 75 percent of this supply is being converted into energy credits either for future consumption or available to sell to other consumers connected to the grid.
You can read about the first installation for the Asháninka below.
5 projects completed
The Huni Kuin living in the Brazilian Amazon are being poisoned by river water contaminated by heavy metals from mining operations, medical waste from neighboring cities, pesticides runoff from the agriculture, fuels from boat traffic and water-borne parasitics and bacteria.
According to the United Nations, the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 worldwide is lack of access to clean water. This is one reason we recently supported a Mothers of the Amazon project to install solar-powered water pumps in five Huni Kuin communities. The solar-powered pumps will provide these communities with clean drinking water reducing the number of deaths and illnesses.
First project completed
In 2022, we installed solar and energy storage (batteries) to power a portion of the Yorenka Tsorenski Institute--founded by the renowned indigenous leader, Chief Benki Piyako. The Institute is a communal gathering place used by the tribe and for Ayahuasca healing ceremonies. The Institute's goal is to integrate traditional wisdom with newly developed techniques to offer a response to the current planetary crisis by addressing ecological, cultural and social issues in an integrative manner.
This is the pilot phase of a much larger solar project for the Asháninka that we will be installing in the next few months. Check back here to learn more.
First project completed
We recently installed a solar and energy storage system with communication and medical supplies for a 600-person Xingu community in the Brazilian Amazon. The solar and battery system powers the community's health clinic and enables them to communicate directly with doctors at major hospitals so they can better prevent, detect and treat Covid-19 cases as well as other medical conditions. This project was done in partnership with Brazilian nonprofit, Sustainable Amazon Foundation, and energy storage provider, MicroPower-Comerc.
We also supported solar-powered telemedicine systems for an additional three remote indigenous or traditional communities. Our local partners took many precautions to ensure that these systems were installed as safely as possible.
7 projects completed
In Brazil, the Munduruku people have been fighting for years against a series of proposed dams that would destroy their rainforest homes and threaten their traditional way of life. In addition to their struggle to protect their homes and lands, their rivers have been polluted by the runoff from mining operations in the region.
It is estimated that mining operations dump about seven million tons of tailings per year into the Tapajós River--mercury being the main metal found. When released into the river, the mercury is carried enters the food chain, contaminating the fish, which are the indigenous people's main source of food. Mercury contamination in the human body can cause sensory motor neurological problems and other serious illnesses, affecting the nervous system of adults and newborns.
EBL recently partnered with Brazilian non-profit, Saúde & Alegria to install solar-powered water pumps for three Munduruku communities. Saúde & Alegria has been working to safeguard and improve the health of indigenous communities in the Amazon. Just like energy access, we believe access to clean water should be a basic human right.
In 2016, Empowered by Light, in partnership with Amazon Watch, installed solar systems in four Munduruku communities to allow them to reliably store fish, a dietary staple, in solar-powered freezers. Solar energy also powers lights and allows the Munduruku to charge cell phones and keep in touch with other communities and with allies at home and abroad.
Empowered by Light is collaborating with Amazon Watch, Greenpeace-Brazil, and others to build small, replicable solar systems for indigenous peoples like the Munduruku who are struggling at the intersection of conservation, conflict, and livelihood development. These systems allow these indigenous groups to thrive as autonomous but connected communities, while also increasing their capacity to share their stories, struggles, and solutions with the wider world.
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