Thanks to funding from the Honnold Foundation and the Welsh Government, six Indigenous technicians from the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampís Nation travelled to Ecuador in December 2022 to take part in a 15-day exchange on solar energy and solar powered boats.
The representatives from the Wampís Nation were trained by Size of Wales partner, Kara Solar and by technicians from the Achuar Indigenous Peoples. The training was run in Achuar Indigenous language which is very similar to Wampís and the Wampís technicians learnt the basic principles of electronics and solar energy. They also got to drive a solar canoe and learnt how to maintain it.
“I have learnt how to use and cut wires. I also learnt how to connect the battery both positive and negative. This training was very good and I want to keep practising more” said Monica Kukush Wam from Puerto Juan
Kara Solar are pioneering sustainable alternatives to the fuel-road dependent transport systems. They have worked with the Achuar Indigenous People of the Ecuadorian Amazon to create a river transportation system powered entirely by solar energy. A fleet of five solar boats have made hundreds of trips to connect thousands of people to health clinics, schools, farms, and each other; without the use of roads or fossil fuels.
These boats are managed and operated autonomously by Indigenous People in isolated forest communities. In partnership with Size of Wales, they are now expanding this model to the Wampís Nation, across the border in Peru.
Canoes are essential to the Wampís people. Deep in the heart of the Amazon, boats provide the most efficient and reliable form of transportation. However, diesel-powered canoes require frequent repair, the oil leaks into the waterways, and rely on costly imported fuel to run.
The Wampís Nation have an ambition of transitioning to 100% renewable energy and move away from contaminating fuels that are polluting their waterways and nature.
This project provides an exciting opportunity to promote sustainable and green energy transportation for the Amazon designed with local communities.
After this initial training phase, the Wampís technicians will construct solar port chargers and build the solar boat – the first of its kind in Peru!
“The training was very interesting for us and I am very excited that we will receive more training. By introducing solar canoes in our territory, we are removing the need to use fuel that pollutes to travel around” said Anibal Chupa Samaren from Muchinguis Kanus
The two solar boats will help the Wampís Nation monitor their territory to prevent deforestation and link up communities along the river. The training also provides employment opportunities for the Wampís people and promotes solar energy across the region.
Their territory covers 1.3 million hectares of tropical forest in the Amazon and is extremely biodiverse. 98% of the forest remains intact despite pressures from illegal logging, gold mining and oil exploration. The significance of the Wampís’ territory to climate protection in Peru, and internationally, is immense and stores huge amounts of carbon.
Supporting Indigenous Peoples to protect their forests is vital if we want to halt deforestation and tackle the climate and nature emergency.