blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


Updates on the Bluefields water program

By Casey Callais -- The last six months have seen big changes brought to the blueEnergy water program and the local beneficiaries of our latest water projects.
Leoniza and her family with their water filter
A summary of our accomplishments so far, direct from the water program coordinator, Thibaut Demaegdt:
We have installed 34 filters. We have built a total of 77 filters built, so 43 are waiting to be installed. We also have drilled seven wells and the eighth is under construction. We have improved our working equipment (to make the construction process more efficient): We have a concrete mixer, concrete vibrator (to reduce air in the mix), electric sand sifter (of our own design), water recycling machine (to automate sand washing and reduce water consumption, also of our own design) and have built sand drying racks. We have certified approximately 100 families through our classes about water, sanitation and hygiene.
Alonso with the well he shares with 6 families
The plan is to build 200 water filters  and 30 wells in Bluefields, and we have nearly reached the halfway mark. We have contracted more water team technicians and have been given a larger space to work. This coupled with the aforementioned improvements, we hope to achieve our goal by December of this year.


bE Hosts Solar Energy International Workshop

By Casey Callais -- It was an exciting week for blueEnergy and a small group of participants enrolled in Solar Energy International's Sustainable Community Development: Wind Power for Rural Communities class hosted by bE Nicaragua.
Alex works winding a coil

The SEI group of five was introduced to how and why blueEnergy works with renewable energy and clean water solutions on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. Mornings of presentations were followed by afternoons of hands-on work where the participants had the opportunity to wind a stator coil, assemble, mount and balance a set of turbine blades and build water filters.
Kieth and Thibaut mixes cement for water filters
The participants also took part in a three-day trip to Monkey Point to perform turbine tower and battery maintenance. Upon returning, a tour of some of the Baptist wells and the solar latrine was given, as well as a visit to see the Independence Day parades and several locations of interest in the city of Bluefields.
Guthry works with Alex to connect the wiring

Reid and Tasha's work overseen by Ronald

This was the second SEI workshop hosted by blueEnergy and we hope to make it a regular event. Special thanks to Laurie Stone from SEI for making this workshop possible!


blueEnergy: The Ultimate Fieldwork Preparation for a Career in Development

By Ben Hyman -- This month I moved to Mumbai, India, to work as a research associate on a project that aims to implement and evaluate the country’s first emissions trading scheme—also known to many as a “cap and trade” program for particulate matter (pollution). As I explore the customs of this new country, the challenges of working closely with the Indian government, and the institutional processes that facilitate getting work done here, I can’t help but feel that this experience is eerily familiar—one that blueEnergy has trained me for.

My year and a half working with bE has a lot to do with how I came to both this exciting job opportunity in India, and a relative state of calm in the face of challenging new development projects. At the beginning of 2008, I joined bE as a wide-eyed volunteer, fresh out of undergrad, ready to get my hands dirty with infrastructure development in Latin America. During my first few months in rural Nicaragua, I learned a key lesson popular among bE field workers: hurry up and wait. While this unofficial motto was half an observation of how we were doing business and half a coping mechanism for sometimes frustrating aspects of the project, it also said something deeper about the importance of patience and adaptability. In Nicaragua, I came to understand the craft and diplomacy that goes into getting business done in a place like Bluefields—a skill that I find myself using every day as I forge new relationships and address new deliverables in India. Just like in Nicaragua, projects here don’t happen overnight, and you can’t expect to mold a long-standing system of processes to your own vision of efficiency.

But perhaps an even more substantive role that blueEnergy played in my path, has to do with the fact that I first explored impact evaluation in a serious way while at bE. After having focused on communications and community relations, I wanted to become more involved in understanding the trade-offs between different rural electrification strategies, and bE saw value in the change of focus. Getting my first taste of data management and survey design, I would eventually quench my thirst for research and enroll in graduate studies at MIT, which ultimately led to my current job placement.

Today, when I face questions like “how do you measure a household’s income when the household head does not know how much they make or only trade goods for goods? “ or “this government agency is not responding to any of my calls to implement further projects, how do I expedite the process?” I am grateful to have had my time with blueEnergy which permitted both self-exploration and the development of key skills and tools that are central to development projects and policy around the world.

Bonboy, a blueEnergy system operator in Monkey point, and Ben Hyman


bE Throws its 5th Trivia Night!

By Jess Goddard -- blueEnergy did it again! On Tuesday, September 13th, blueEnergy staff, volunteers, sponsors and friends gathered for its 5th Trivia Night Fundraiser in San Francisco. The event contributions totaled $2500 that will go directly to supporting blueEnergy’s critical work in Nicaragua! The scene was packed: 81 attendees joyously scribbled on trivia scorecards to keep pace with MC Fritz’s mind-puzzling questions (How many teeth does a grown canine have? 42, in case you were wondering!). Congratulations to the first place winners, Back in Black and Veatch, as well as the second and third prize winners High Voltage and Volcanes de Información!
 Trivia Champions Back in Black & Veatch
blueEnergy would like to thank Bradley & Company, Private Wealth Management, Latham & Watkins LLP for sponsoring the event, Maggie McGarry’s Pub for once again hosting and contributing to blueEnergy’s cause, Mermaid Sweets for providing the delectable cupcakes, and Fritz Zimmerman for providing his expert trivia hosting services.
Event Sponsor Latham & Watkins LLP

Trivia Night host MC Fritz Zimmerman

On behalf of the entire blueEnergy team and our beneficiaries, thank you for your continued commitment to our sustainable development, renewable energy, and clean water projects in Nicaragua. Make sure to check out our Facebook page to “Like” us, see photos of the event, and stay posted about next quarter’s Trivia Night!

MIT video: Waste pickers from Bluefields

From MIT comes a video on life at the Bluefields dump. It's a real eye-opener for people who haven't experienced a visit yet.

Waste pickers, Bluefields, Nicaragua 2011 from Erik Flakoll Alegría on Vimeo.

By Casey Callais -- The MIT Community Innovators Lab partners with D-Lab on a fall course where students collaborate with wastepickers, the UNDP, blueEnergy, and the municipality of Bluefields to develop waste management strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create enterprise opportunties for the women featured in this film.