Yansa is a NY-based nonprofit that I have been volunteering for since September 2011. I have been helping them out with fundraising (grant-writing) and technical support on their project to establish the world’s first community-owned wind farm in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The Yansa Group works with indigenous and peasant communities in Latin America and Africa to build sustainable, equitable and participatory local economies on the basis of wind energy. This partnership, which requires collective decision-making and participation on the part of communities, and financial and project management support on the part of Yansa, empowers the communities to build robust and sustainable economies, maintain control of their land, and determine their own social and development initiatives.
Yansa has partnered with Ixtepec, a community of 30,000 members on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and is now in the process of establishing Mexico’s first community-based wind farm there. Most of the inhabitants of Ixtepec belong to the Zapotec indigenous tribe, which has suffered significant culture loss over several decades, and are constantly in a fight for their heritage, language, land and way of life. The project will generate profit through the sale of wind energy to the national grid and co-ownership of a community-based wind farm will allow community members to maintain control over their land and enjoy the economic, environmental and social benefits that production of clean and renewable energy will create. Profits generated by the project will be invested in social development programs that will be democratically decided by the community members. Some social impact avenues identified by the community include the advancement of higher education opportunities (with consideration to gender equality); access to public water, electricity and waste management services; pension funds as a means of retirement security; and improved healthcare services.
Yansa’s partnership with the community of Ixtepec will:
- Advance environmental sustainability – a community-based renewable energy project will help this region of Mexico be independent of fossil fuels and promote cleaner and safer communities.
- Empower communities – Community members will participate in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project. They will receive the necessary tools (seed funding, training, etc.) required for the implementation of the project, and will truly take ownership to then sustain the project over time.
The primary objectives of the project are:
- The construction of a utility-scale wind farm with an installed capacity of 101.2 MW, composed of 44 wind turbine generators of 2.3 MW each
- Facilitation of community development projects in Ixtepec that have been decided upon by the community members. This will include involving specialists in the project decision-making process (forestry, agriculture, etc.), consulting government agencies for support, legal expertise, etc. Potential target areas for social development programs include the advancement of higher education opportunities (with consideration to gender equality); access to public water, electricity and waste management services; pension funds as a means of retirement security; and improved healthcare services.
- Establish an internationally accredited training center for turbine operation and maintenance technicians in Ixtepec. This center will encourage the training of the citizens of Ixtepec so that they can manage and operate the wind farm.
- Establish a replicable project model in which renewable energy serves as an engine for community-based development in historically disadvantaged communities.