The community Gamake is part of the indigeneous group called “Arhuacos” in La Sierra Nevada, located in the rural area of the municipality of Pueblo Bello, Cesar, in the north of Colombia. The community has 100 families with five members per family, for a total population of approximately five hundred persons.
The community does not have electricity, which represents important implications for their daily lives, economic development, health, communications with the outside, and educational or recreational activities. Their settlement is difficult to access, which is why it has not been interconnected to the national power grid. However, the area has renewable energy sources that can be used for electricity generation.
La Sierra Nevada is a water factory, so the area is rich in resources for the production of hydraulic energy. Given the frequent rainfall at the peak of the mountain there is a constant flow of this water mass downstream, through rivers of various sizes. Additionally, it has a solar radiation with harnessable levels for the production of photovoltaic energy during most of the year.
According to this, the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Central University, in cooperation with the German company e.Ray, will implement in the area a multi-service renewable energy center, which will be a community meeting point where electricity will be provided for essential activities such as the their knitting activities, conservation of food and medicines, and their recreational and educational activities.
Sustainability of the project
An important component of the project is its sustainability, therefore a series of workshops on social appropriation of science and technology were designed along with the community members. The
aim of these workshops is to establish a permanent dialogue and promote the implementation of a project characterized by the collaborative work between the engineering team and the members of
With this strategy, the community is expected to actively participate in the design and implementation of the technical solution, in the elaboration of the use and maintenance manuals
and, learn about technical details and the physical principles behind the technology. Additionally, some of these workshops are designed to work specifically with the children of the community,
since they represent the future generations dealing with the technology.
The families, in the community Gamake are dedicated to growing crops in home gardens, raising animals, producing wool and fabrics, both for their own use and for the sale of “mochilas” (their
traditional handmade bags). They also grow medicinal plants that help to protect the environment and human health. The Arhuacos have a symbolic dimension of myths and rites that organize the
territory based on the care of sacred sites. It is characteristic of their culture and ancestry to establish an unique relationship with territory, linked to the care of nature as a principle of care
for life, the community and the world.
Knowledge and practices are transmitted from generation to generation. Women teach their daughters how to knit mochilas, prepare food, take care of the house and the youngest children.
The men teach the sons the tasks of cultivation, animal husbandry, goat shearing, and garment knitting, as well as the cultivation and preparation of medicinal plants, including coca as a sacred
The Gamake Indigenous School has ethno-educational processes that strengthen traditional knowledge and practices, and is strongly linked to the dynamics of the community.
It is a community with deep local roots, where the productive processes are promoted as a commitment of care for the territory, the inhabitants and nature. The protection of water, plants,
animals, and landscapes is intimately linked to the production of food for life, well-being, and health, both of the land and of people.
In this sense, Gamake "Government of the mountain" raises from the appropriation of the past, the needs of strengthening in the present, which allows them to improve their living conditions and the
effective exercise of governance.
e.Ray, project partner
The German company e.Ray Europa GmbH was founded in 2015 as a result of research at the Technical University of Darmstadt. e.Ray's mission is to protect rivers as the lifelines of the world
and to secure the livelihood of riverbank dwellers with sustainable solutions. This includes managing the risks of flooding, pollution and providing clean energy for local uses that generate sustainable
e.Ray has a highly qualified international team of engineers, economists, creatives and promoters. Currently, the company has a team of eight employees with more than 25 years in the hydrological
sector; 20 years in IoT and GNSS (Global Satellite Navigation System) and 15 years in photovoltaic projects.
The innovations developed by e.Ray have led the company to remarkable achievements, such as being selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) Business Incubator for the development of the
River Nexus Project. River Nexus aims to establish a network of 2,200 independent river power measurement stations to provide vital water resource information and early flood warning. Therefore, the water management capacity of the authorities will be improved, while the communities receive clean energy.
Note: The project "Multi-service renewable energy center for the Arhuaca community of Gamake in Pueblo Bello, Cesar" is financed with resources from the National Fund for Science, Technology and
Innovation, Francisco José de Caldas, of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia.
Mónica Andrea Gutiérrez (PPRE 2015-2017), Aliex Trujillo and Manuel Mejía - Teachers and researchers of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Department at Universidad Central in
Fabián Suárez - Co-founder of the company e.Ray