The Barefoot College started 38 years ago in a small village called Tilonia in the middle of the desert in Rajasthan, India. It is the only college which is fully solar electrified and has been built by the poor, managed by the poor and owned by the poor.
The objectives are to mobilize, identify and apply traditional knowledge and skills for the development of their own communities and demonstrate the lifestyle and workstyle of Mahatma Gandhi.
In India, 350 Barefoot engineers solar-electrified 500 villages, in Africa 115 mothers and grandmothers solarelectrified 100 villages.
To train semi-lliterate, illiterate, rural mothers and grandmothers from remote rural inaccessible villages in Africa to solar-electrify their own village. The rural mothers and grandmothers will come for 6 months to the Barefoot College in India and be trained in how to fabricate charge controllers, invertors, solar lanterns and install them in each house in the village they come from.
The equipment will come from India and it can be used to establish a rural electronic workshop where all the major repairs of solar units can be carried out immediately.
The Barefoot approach requires each community to commit in writing how much each family is prepared to pay for the use of the solar unit. The simple calculation that is used is how much each family spends per month on kerosene, torch batteries, candles, and wood. This comes to nearly $20 a month.
At the meeting where the whole village is present, they decide in writing, how much they are prepared to pay every month. The money is collected by a village level committee and is deposited in a bank account, controlled by the village. 30% of the money is usually committed as a salary to the woman barefoot solar engineer.
The rural electronic workshop can carry out instant repairs as well as provide power for a TV or running a computer.