When solar and solidarity are one!

Mexican and French students are joining hands to improve the everyday life of the disadvantaged population of the State of Hidalgo in central-east Mexico.

Humanitarian and Development

Orizabita Region (Hidalgo State), Mexico

Christophe Roulot

€ 5 000 (2014 winner of the Student Solidarity Awards) Selection Committee of May 23, 2014 to the Selection Committee at 2014/05/23

Project leader

Mexisol, the association of the Ecole Polytech'Montpellier school

"I appreciate the determination of the students and their long-term commitment to this project. Since I work in energy, I'm particularly concerned with development projects that combine environmental enhancement and the quality of life of the low-income populations, while cutting their energy bill."

Christophe Roulot

Since 2010, Mexisol, a nonprofit created by students of Polytech' Montpellier, have been working to provide the populations of the poor regions of Mexico with inexpensive systems using renewable energies, especially solar.

Destination Orizabita, where most of the locals still lack running water and electricity. In the field, the students therefore organize workshops to manufacture energy systems, such as solar ovens and dryers, to improve the everyday life of 30 communities. The installation of heating equipment using solar energy helps them save money, reduce the environmental impact of their daily lives, and above all, to protect their health by reducing the inhalation of carbon monoxide. Besides, thanks to exchanges and transfers of skills during the workshops, the populations learn how to maintain their facilities after the Mexisol teams leave, and pass on their knowledge to other beneficiaries. And in the same way, the students also draft instruction manuals for equipment construction and maintenance. The villagers, satisfied with the action of the nonprofit, now want other systems such as waterless toilets and solar water heaters.

2014 Target: 1,000 new beneficiaries

In 2011, the nonprofit also met with students in renewable energies of the Del Valle del Mesquital Technological University based in Ixmiquilpan, members of the Mexican nonprofit Nana Xhimai[1]. After becoming partners, the Mexican students have given a renewed impetus to the project by supervising it on the spot between two missions, enabling the French students to understand the local context better, and taking charge of translating the manuals not only into Spanish, but also into the local language, for distribution to all concerned.

Boosted by this partnership, the 2014 mission aims to extend the activities of Mexisol to other vulnerable communities (1 000 new beneficiaries expected), and to broaden the range of the equipment proposed with showers, water heaters and waterless toilets. The population will also be taught about renewable energies, and especially about the potential of the region for solar energy and the preparation of a general review to guarantee the impact of the project since 2011.

This project was awarded the 3rd 2014 Student Solidarity Awards.

The grant will be used to finance the raw materials for the manufacture of the solar dryers and solar ovens, and the equipment and tools needed by the workshops.

[1]Nana Xhimai works in the communities for the development of good environmental practice and the use of renewable energies in eco-tourism.