Matilia Cedillo knows: Renewable energy can solve a dual challenge.



Alianza Centroamericana para la Sostenibilidad Energética (ACCESE) is a network of over 70 organisations from Central America working towards the goal of sustainable energy for all. With the support and involvement of Hivos Central America, the network’s reach is felt far and wide. International agendas can be influenced by the network’s local actors, and vice versa. ACCESE keeps the lines of communication open by creating and sustaining them with intermediaries like Matilia Cedillo.

When Ms. Cedillo left her role as a primary school teacher in 2004 to get a better job, she started working with Fundación Solar, in the renewable energy sector. In 2009, she began volunteering with the newly founded Semilla del Sol in Guatemala City, talking to people in the area of Quiché, Guatemala’s most populous state, about their energy needs. Luckily, Ms. Cedillo lives near the communities she serves, enabling her to truly understand their needs with regards to energy use and access.

Fast-forward to 2015. Now Ms. Cedillo is the Vice President of the Board of Directors, where she works as an intermediary between the communities and external organisations to develop strategies that work for everyone. In her years at Semilla del Sol, she’s worked with over 50 communities in Quiché region.

Ms. Cedillo knows that renewable energy can solve a dual challenge—the environmental harm caused by fossil fuels, and the lack of access to energy in rural areas. When local communities are involved in the design of renewable energy projects, they can develop something that benefits them in their everyday lives.

accese_energia2015_013To date, 250 locals in rural and peri-urban areas of the Quiché region, where 1 million people reside, have been trained in renewable energy. One hundred of those trained are currently working on renewable energy advocacy, as well as other projects. The positive outcomes are many: they improve health and livelihood, enable people to become entrepreneurs with greater earning power.

While the focus here is on Ms. Cedillo and her efforts in Quiché, ACCESE is noteworthy for bringing international, national, regional and local players into a conversation on balancing sustainable and inclusive energy. Efforts tend to focus on renewable energy, poverty, gender, indigenous populations and technologies such as clean cookstoves, microhydro and solar.

ACCESE’s reach extends to the locals who are directly affected by these decisions all the way to the government officials who are making the legislative decisions. The result is an international platform where everyone can be heard.