This year has been one of emerging hope and continuing challenges. In mid-2021, conditions began to improve worldwide only to deteriorate over the summer months as the continuing pandemic took a turn for the worse. Our team members adjusted, then adjusted again to stay safe and follow health and travel restrictions. But as 2021 comes to a close, it has become increasingly clear that we need to redouble our efforts to find a way to continue electrification efforts in countries and communities that need our help.
An important reality that has been clearly revealed by the pandemic is the utter vulnerability of rural health systems that cannot respond to local crises without reliable electricity service.
This year, NRECA International team members initiated international travel where health conditions permitted to support partners and projects. Operations have accelerated thoughtfully for many of our projects towards pre-COVID work practices – as we continue to monitor local conditions in each country where we work. Using digital communications channels when needed, our has been working more diligently to implement projects and support our funding partners and clients
An important reality that has been clearly revealed by the pandemic is the utter vulnerability of rural health systems that cannot respond to local crises without reliable electricity service. It has become crystal clear that we cannot slow down our efforts and need urgently address this global problem.
The surge in expanding rural electrification efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia has also shown us that private, for-profit solutions cannot alone address electrification needs. There is an increasing interest by agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the African Development Bank, to invest in implementing the electric cooperative model for electrification efforts, and it is our intention to demonstrate the role cooperatives can play given the opportunity to do so.
A success story from this year is the Totota Electric Cooperative. With the investment and support of America’s electric cooperatives and the dedication and commitment of our staff, this small utility in Liberia has shown how and why the cooperative model works. It has become the shining example of not just Liberia, but also the region. One might be tempted to think this is an anomaly, if we haven’t seen the same situation unfold many times in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Bolivia, and many other places.
And to this end, we are working on cooperative development projects supported by the USAID and local electrification agencies in Nigeria, Zambia and Uganda.
I’m also pleased to report that while exercising extreme caution with respect to COVID health and travel restrictions, we intend to resume our popular member-sponsored volunteer program in the Summer of 2022. Meanwhile, I encourage you to learn about other ways you can get involved and support our mission. We are continuing to help the communities we have brought power to by providing them the resources needed to invest in productive uses of electricity.
Lastly, I would like to extend my deep gratitude and appreciation to all of you for your continued support, and your continued trust in our work.