Robin des Watts – Sharing the benefits of energy saving
Terre des Hommes Suisse and Terragir have been running the programme ‘Robin des Watts’ since 2009. After a process of awareness raising among schoolchildren in primary schools across the canton of Geneva, energy savings made at these schools (water, electricity and heating) are used – with the financial support of the communes concerned – to help renovate schools in rural communities in the Andes, where the harsh climate makes conditions particularly tricky.
Raising awareness and showing solidarity in the North
Each school year Terragir gives three workshops to children in pilot classes (10–12 year olds), teaching best practices in energy saving and making the children energy ambassadors for their schools.
In parallel, Terre des Hommes Suisse runs two workshops about the rural communities living at 4,000m above sea level in the Andes. Particular emphasis is placed on the recurring problems these communities face: minimal financial and energy resources, limited access to food and a rural exodus.
An Energy Day and a Solidarity Day are also organised at participating schools. In order to get younger children involved (7–10 year olds), the pilot classes are invited to host mini-workshops to present what they have done with Robin des Watts.
Renovating day schools and boarding schools in the South
The savings made by the communes involved in the Robin des Watts programme are donated to finance various types of construction project at schools in the South: building a greenhouse flush with the wall of a school or accommodation block, to heat the rooms as well as providing a large vegetable plot for the children; better insulation and double-glazing to keep heat inside the classrooms; solar panels to provide hot water; better kitchen facilities to facilitate the work of school canteens; and dry toilets to introduce more environmentally friendly practices in schools.
Over the years Robin des Watts has gradually established itself as an internationally renowned solidarity programme that is greatly appreciated by all the different parties involved, especially the children. In Peru, the Terre des Hommes Suisse partner organisation Cas Cunas has already worked with ten or so schools, all of which have seen significant improvements in teaching conditions. Our partner Pro Agro has provided similar support to two boarding schools in Bolivia. A documentary produced by Juan José Lozano in 2013 describes the whole Robin des Watts process. The DVD (in French) is on sale in our online shop.