16 of May 2016
Going Off-Grid in Timor-Leste
Sally Bolton

"This past February I returned to Timor-Leste and visited Atauro, a small island 25km north of Dili, where Kopernik has worked with local partners since 2011 to distribute a range of technologies. Three coastal villages on the eastern side of Atauro have access to electricity for 12 hours each night. Unless the ferry breaks down and is unable to bring fuel for the island’s generator — in which case the hours of electricity are reduced as fuel is rationed, as had happened in the three weeks prior to my visit.

Electricity is yet to reach the other villages on the island, but fortunately, solar lights have, through Kopernik’s Light Up Atauro, Switch on Atauro and Lights for a Brighter Future projects. Everyone I spoke to on the island was very enthusiastic about the lights. “You see them everywhere, up in the mountains,” said Mario, who runs a simple eco-lodge in Adara, on the more remote, western side of the island. “People love the d.lights, because they’re just so easy,” Mario told me. “Great!” I responded, “let’s go find them!”. To which Mario laughed nervously, as he explained that the only vehicle on the island able to get up into the mountains had just been rented by another group for the next three days.

“No worries, we can hike up to Makadade!” I said enthusiastically. Mario dubiously eyed the gathering storm clouds and suggested hiking up the steep slopes — which rise to almost 1,000 meters at the island’s highest point — during a torrential downpour might not be the best idea. I had forgotten how much life is ruled by the weather during the wet season in Timor-Leste."

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Sally Bolton
Communications Advisor, Kopernik

Kopernik is a Bali-based social enterprise that connects simple, life-changing technology to the most remote parts of the developing world to reduce poverty.