The Universidad del Norte through its Electrical Engineering faculty, led by Professor Mauricio Pardo, and their associated research laboratories along with the noteworthy IEEE Student Chapter of Universidad del Norte and mentored by Professor Paul Berger of Ohio State, will work closely with indigenous Wayúu peoples living in the Guajira peninsula desert to provide solar-powered water desalinization.

By working closely with Neil Mendez, working with the La Guajira provincial government on the design of this community project, and with his role as supervisor to all renewable energy projects in the Guajira peninsula, the seeds for success and tendrils to the Wayúu peoples are primed.

We have designed a modular designed, following this HAC project, which can evolve into an entire Smart-grid system powering the Wayúu peoples, providing both clean water, and also electricity. We envision, due to the peninsula’s prime location within the trade winds of the Caribbean that a hybrid system of photovoltaics and wind energy production can be incorporated too.


This IEEE HAC proposal focuses on helping the indigenous Wayúu peoples of the Guajira Peninsula, an arid desert community isolated on a peninsula in northern Colombia. Due to its desert conditions, they are lacking potable water and supplies for the community. According to the Washington Post:  “as many as 5,000 Wayúu children have died over the past decade from malnutrition and a lack of basic medical care”.

Thus, we propose to supply clean water via desalination similar to the neighboring Aruba. The idea is supported by the use of renewable energies that will power the desalination plants, giving water production an energy autonomy.

Sustainable Development Goals

The proposal for clean water by solar powered desalinization directly supports:

  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Good health and well-being
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Life on land


  • Establish an off-grid renewable-energy-based electrification site for clean water desalination for the indigenous Wayúu people
  • Build towards a sustainable micro-grid in future years, possibly through additional support from the IEEE Smart Village, by adding new nodes of renewable-energy-based power and clean water desalinization to support local peoples and foster ecotourism