SONGs are designed to provide power for communities as opposed to just individual use, providing agro-processing and business opportunities, i.e. water pumps for irrigation and egg incubators, as shown below.

Egg incubators in Kenya powered by the solar nano-grid

Water pump in Bangladesh


The main economic activity in both communities are diverse and include mining, crop farming and live stock farming. SONG aims  to provide energy for context-appropriate income-generating appliances such as egg incubators, for example, which produce chickens which can be kept for personal use and sold at market for income.

Lemolo B: In the village there are a set of small kiosks, selling basics such as batteries, flour, eggs, sugar, tea and kerosene to serve the community. The small kiosk is equipped with two solar panels and a small inverter used to charge phones and run a small TV. The only water available is a rain-fed pond a short distance uphill from the community, which is also used to water livestock. The water is unhygienic and currently poses a major health issue.

Echareria: Despite the deficiencies in energy access, the community engages in productive activity, with a location for shops, mills, salons and hotels. There are also small businesses such as tailors, general stores, butchers, hardware/electrical stores, mechanics, shoemakers and school-uniform makers. Water supply, however, remains a severe problem; poor families are forced to walk, bike or take donkey carts to the river some kilometres away.

Community member feeds goat with milled grain in Kenya



Both communities are highly dependent on the cultivation of rice paddy for food and income. Despite this, there are a number of families that have no access to land for paddy or tobacco. In Faitaing, for example, half of the households said they had no income from rice or tobacco.

Baroihati: Locals are involved in a diverse set of livestock activities, particularly the rearing of cows, goats and chickens. The roads accessing the community are dotted with businesses servicing the local communities, such as cloth manufacturers, pharmacists, mechanics and firewood sellers. The community is reliant on limited water supplies for personal use as well as the cultivation of rice paddies, which is why they were keen on the addition of another, possibly solar-powered, water pump, which would enable them to irrigate more crops.

Faitang: The community has good access to and from the main highway through bike, car, animal transport or tractor. As well as cultivation of rice paddy, locals also grow tobacco, however the landlord takes 50% of the crops. Only a small number of people own  livestock such as cows, chickens or goats.

Irrigation and agriculture in Bangladesh