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LAIT UP BELIZE! project launched to electrify rural villages

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Posted: Monday, August 30, 2021. 6:53 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A European Union (EU)-funded technical assistance program, ‘Lait Up Belize,’ intends to increase access to energy services by bringing electricity to villages that are still unserved with electricity infrastructure.

Together with Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) and the other stakeholders, the Energy Unit in the Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy and Logistics has developed a national planning framework for identifying all the unserved communities. This national planning framework allows the socio-economic characteristics of each village to be included in a national database that then allows for a more integrated planning process to utilize available funds – including a grant that is provided to BEL under the EU Financing Agreement with the Government of Belize.

It is planned that new electricity systems – based on mini-grid technology – will be implemented in selected villages as a first phase of the national programme in 2022 with the grant funds that are currently available from the EU. These projects will complement the mini-grid electrification project that is presently being implemented through the Energy Unit and BEL in Indian Creek – and serving the villages of Medina Bank, Golden Stream and Indian Creek – and the project that is in the planning phase for Corazon Creek Village.

Last week these key stakeholders, including BEL, Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), the National Association of Village Councils (NAVCO) and the Toledo Alcalde Association (TAA), joined by area representatives Mike Espat and Oscar Requeña, toured several Toledo villages to be part of the initiative – Santa Cruz, Santa Elena, Pueblo Viejo, Na Luum Ca, and the community at Pine Hill. They were unable to get to others because of the flooding.

The participants collected data and heard the views from residents in the villages as well as from the village chairpersons and alcaldes. They were particularly focused on the productive uses of energy services – such as for agro-processing (including corn milling, rice de-husking, coconut oil production, etc.), eco-tourism, business services, irrigation, and refrigeration, as these activities are understood to stimulate local economic development and social well-being.

The five villages that were out of reach due to the flooding will be scheduled for a visit as soon as the road conditions allow access.

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