Access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy or Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) plays a key role in enabling the achievement of many of the other SDGs. SDG7-driven solutions become particularly important in areas that are remote, rural and resource-constrained. In these areas, provision of basic services to populations including primary healthcare, particularly maternal and child care, education and skilling are dependent on reliable energy access.

Across rural areas in India, there are a number of community institutions that seek to provide such critical social welfare services to particularly marginalized and otherwise disadvantaged populations. They cater to a range of individuals including differently-abled people and those with disabilities, youth from tribal communities or poor-socio economic backgrounds, young mothers and pregnant women, abandoned senior citizens, orphans, women rescued from vulnerable circumstances and so on.

These institutions include Bridge schools, Residential schools for differently-abled students, Orphanages, Old age homes, Skilling and rehabilitation centers, special health care centers, auxiliary maternal care facilities and so on. There are a number of such institutions run by Government agencies, NGOs and charity-based organizations to support these individuals with basic boarding and lodging, education, healthcare and skilling depending on the residents requirements, and help enhance their life and wellbeing.

In order to run their regular operations and better deliver services to the residents or end-users, the access, reliability and affordability of energy become critical for these institutions. A number of these institutions are located in areas with poor or unreliable access to grid-based electricity and they are forced to spend their limited resources on back up fuels such as diesel to power basic lighting, fans or mobile charging.

This program on ‘Energizing Vulnerable Community Institutions’ seeks to address some of these challenges and demonstrate the value of Decentralized Renewable Energy solutions- in improving basic wellbeing with lighting, cooling and mobile charging facilities; enabling education through greater use of audio-visual aids; facilitating vocational training to create additional livelihood opportunities; and improving healthcare services for this diverse set of beneficiaries.

In addition to improving service provision, this program is facilitating the reduction and avoidance of CO2 emissions by moving away from a largely fossil-fuel based grid and back-up sources such as diesel to solar energy solutions- thereby enabling Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Mitigation and Action.

This case study booklet captures the context and solutions implemented in a subset of 6 institutions by SELCO Foundation in partnership with Wells Fargo and showcases the outcomes of this effort on the lives of the residents and staff at these facilities.