Solar Street Lighting

Approximately 1.5 billion people still don’t have access to electricity worldwide. By using the power of the sun — the ultimate natural resource — these issues can be ameliorated, if not solved.

Type: Sustainable Infrastructure, Solar Energy
Objective: Help a rural population install solar street lamps in key locations around the island.
Where: La Gonave, Haiti
Beneficiaries: Over 5,000 residents
Cost: $2,500 per location

Implementation Partners: Graduate students from Parsons School of Design

Funding Partners: Atelier Ten Foundation, Parsons School of Design, USAI Lighting, Bartco Lighting, Lumenwerx, Mercury Lighting, etc.

Interested in funding the installation of solar street lamps, contact us here.

In 2016, Roots of Development and a group of graduate students from Parsons School of Design teamed up with Roots’ community partner (APDAGThe Professional Association for the Development and Advancement of Gran Sous/La Gonave) to carry out a solar street lighting initiative on the island of La Gonave. Under the direction of their professor, and professional lighting designer Chad Groshart, the graduate students researched best practices in the developing world and proposes (and helped to deliver) a solution to La Gonave’s lighting needs. The solution was based on APDAG’s guidance and on technology that was already available in Haiti.

With the exception of one town (the port town of Anse-a-Galets), the majority of La Gonave’s towns and villages are not connected to any sort of power grid. Most residents live with no electricity at all. This affects business, education, and almost every other aspect of life on the island.

We will be building on the success of the solar street lamp installations that took place in 2016 and 2017, to bring new solar lighting solutions to more communities and another incredible learning opportunity to a new group of Parsons students.

Upcoming projects:

This year, we will be partnering once again with Parsons School of Design in New-York City. For a third year in a row, we will be helping local leaders on La Gonave light up a key location using all solar energy. The installation will take place in May in Anse-a-Galets, La Gonave’s largest town and main port of entry. We will be working directly with the Mayor‘s office to identify the location and organize residents around the project, as Roots of Development ensures as always that the local population and officials make their own decisions.

Mayor Ernso Louissaint mentioned two key potential installation sites:

The first one concerns the largest public square of the town. It was recently renovated, but in order to make it available for residents at night as well, a working lighting system is necessary. The square will then be a real public space where residents can gather anytime to talk, read, study, where merchants can sell their goods. It will also be used for public gatherings and large town celebrations. With a solid lighting design plan as well as a reliable source of energy, the square will be able to reach its full potential! That’s where Parsons’ role comes into play.

The second potential site concerns a new walkway that is currently under construction at the wharf in Anse-a-Galets. Visitors and passengers arriving by boat will walk on one (covered) side of the wall, while products and goods being loaded and unloaded from the boats onto trucks will be handled on the other side. In order to receive visitors to the island appropriately, sufficient and sustainable lighting is crucial.


Previous installations:

In May 2016, this partnership resulted in the first installation of a set of solar street lamps in key areas around the community of Gran Sous. Our local community partner, APDAG, held multiple community meetings during the planning phase of the project. During these meetings, the community asked questions, voted on the locations where the lamps would be placed, decided who would contribute to the local resources needed to install the lamps. On the morning of the installation, residents were digging holes and mixing concrete by 5 a.m. By noon, all five solar street lamps were up and running. Shortly after the installation of the lamps, economic and social activities sprung up at nighttime.

Five more solar street lamps were installed in May 2017. APDAG and other local groups were again responsible for selecting the location of the lamps and preparing for their installation. In evaluations that took place with APDAG after the completion of the project, the great majority of community members in attendance marked the project as a real success. Excitement about the new lamps was clear at the meeting. As one resident explained, “this was only seen in our dreams before, only in dreams. Even our ancestors never could have imagined this for our community. Not our great grandparents, not our grandparents, not our parents.”

After sunset, residents gather around the lamps to sell food, study, play cards and socialize. These activities were rare prior to the installation of the lamps because of the total darkness of the streets after the sun had set. Another consequence of this initiative was that the Gran Sous community received a lot of attention from surrounding communities. Local leaders from neighboring communities have invited members of the local community organization to discuss how other communities can install street lamps in their area. The opportunity to gather and socialize at night, as well as the attention that has come from neighboring communities has created a sense of community pride for the Gran Sous residents which encourages cohesion and civic engagement on the island of La Gonave.”

For more information about the previous installations, check out the Roots of Development blog posts Help us expand this initiative and install more solar street lamps throughout the island. Raise funds or make a donation today! Any questions, contact us or Chad Groshart at

For more information about the previous installations, check out the Roots of Development blog posts about the 2016 and 2017 installations.