The home of Cirilo Araujo and his wife Maria Pineda is located in the heart of a barrio called Juan Pablo Duarte in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Juan Pablo Duarte is one of nine districts that now have 24-hour access to electricity.
“My worry now is not the darkness but how to save electricity [and] control my consumption to pay less,” says Maria, 70, a retired mother of seven children. “Now I’m attentive to turning off lights that I don’t need.”
“I take care of my sick husband,” she continues. “A few months ago I had to help him in candlelight because the blackouts lasted for more than 12 hours. But now our lives have changed favorably because we know the electricity is here and it’s not leaving.”
Since mid-2017, Maria’s home has had a meter, which means she has become a ‘formal’ electricity customer. A prepay system permits her to control her monthly bill. The changes are a result of the rehabilitation of the electricity network by Elesur, one of three power companies that make up the Dominican Corporation of State Electric Companies, known by its Spanish initials CDEEE.
“The change has been substantial,” says Cirilo. “Now we pay only for the electricity that we consume. We were anxious to have our own meter because the light that [electricity] gives us brings happiness, health and security.”
In the Juan Pablo Duarte barrio, just as in dozens of other less well-off sectors in the Dominican capital, electricity distribution networks have grown in an uncontrolled manor due to electricity theft and obsolete infrastructure. This caused frequent and prolonged blackouts, fires and million-dollar losses for the Dominican state and electricity companies.
Cirilio and Maria are just two of 620,000 people who have benefited from the Electricity Distribution Rehabilitation Program and the Loss Reduction Program co-financed by the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) , the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Dominican government and OFID’s Energy for the Poor initiative.