— The Kara Solar Story
Kara means “a dream that comes true” in the language of the Achuar people of Ecuador and Peru.
Kara Solar is a solar-powered river transportation and energy system in the Amazon. Since 2012, a team of engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, and Achuar leaders and community members have been working together on this shared dream.
The ancestral territory of the Achuar is a vast rainforest divided by the Ecuador-Peru border. In Ecuador the territory is about 2 million acres and is among the most biodiverse places in the world. It is free of oil development, mining, industrial agriculture, and timber extraction. Traditionally the Achuar were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers and traveled by foot or canoe.
In the 1940’s, Christian missionaries arrived, and soon, the Achuar were living in settled communities, dressing in western style clothes, and increasingly connected to national and global economies by airplanes, radio, and later, the internet.
Gas and diesel-powered canoes are now common, but fuels are expensive because they are flown in or brought by boat from far away in Peru. The fuels also leak into the waterways, and the motor noise repels the animals that the Achuar rely on for food.
Now roads are arriving in Achuar territory, representing a threshold, a point of no return. Many Achuar see roads as an opportunity to exchange goods, reach markets, and access education and health services, but also recognize that their arrival brings irreversible changes such as cultural degradation and accelerated deforestation, which releases carbon into the atmosphere and exacerbates climate change.
The Achuar stand a crossroad. Change has been their reality in recent generations, and only promises to accelerate. The question is: what kind of change will it be?
As we create a community owned enterprise that meets exiting needs and replaces expensive, contaminating fuels, we imagine a future of new possibilities and opportunities. This is the first step towards a new model of infrastructure for the Amazon, designed not for but with local communities.
This is #Amazon2030.