By Lauren Devine
Renewable World is an international NGO with a handle on two of the most pressing global crises we face: the eradication of poverty and climate change.
Their mission is to improve health, income and education opportunities for some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities, using climate-friendly methods and sustainable energy sources.
Championed as the non-profit organisation of the UK renewable energy industry by renewable trade associations such as Renewable UK and Scottish Renewables, Renewable World works to empower people in developing nations sustainably. Their focus is on remote communities living in harsh rural locations without access to grid power. Currently operating in Nepal, Kenya and Nicaragua, their projects span from solar-powered refrigeration facilities for fishing communities on the shores of Lake Victoria, to hydram pumps providing water for communities in the Nepalese mountains.
One of Renewable World’s most successful projects is on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya. Solar-powered refrigeration facilities allow fishermen to preserve their catch, enabling them to trade with market buyers at a fair price without being exploited. These ‘Energy hub’ initiatives give communities the opportunity to improve their health, incomes and educational opportunities. Homes can be lit safely, as solar power eradicates the reliance on harmful and unsustainable fuels like kerosene for cooking and lighting. The health benefits brought with the removal of hazardous fumes from inside homes are particularly felt by women and children, who traditionally spend the most time inside the home.
Solar-powered water pumps lift and purify water for drinking, and allow diversification of incomes by sustaining vegetable growing. Small business enterprises can be powered, giving locals the opportunity to generate a sustainable income. The small business enterprises enabled by these climate-friendly solar projects range from beauty parlours to local kiosks, where solar-powered lamps can be charged for night-time fishing.
Their Marketing Information and Communications (MICH) programme, which involves installing centres with computers and media equipment with internet access, allows communities to utilise online market information and educational resources. When energy is introduced, these communities are invited to engage and use it to make a positive difference to their lives.
These kinds of issues – like internet access, or powering your home without endangering your health – are all aspects of daily life that are taken for granted in the developed world. The struggles of these remote communities often don’t make the forefront of humanitarian or international development discourse, but are an integral part of the global mission to provide equal energy access worldwide.
All of these benefits and opportunities, made possible with Renewable World’s use of sustainable energy systems, come with the additional bonus of simultaneously combatting climate change.
The Renewable World approach is geared towards achieving their mission of energy access for all. Improving the quality of life and standard of living for communities in the developing world, without compromising or encroaching on their cultures or societal conventions, is Renewable World’s idea of an ideal balance. Their work doesn’t provide a short-term fix. Unsustainable aid isn’t part of the equation. Communities are empowered to take charge of the maintenance and governance of the energy systems themselves, so that they can benefit from them independently and sustainably in the long term, without continued or indefinite guidance from Renewable World or their technological partners.
Renewable World is currently in the process of establishing new solar-based projects with communities in Nicaragua, and sustainably powering fish hatcheries in Bangladesh.
Renewable World provides a long-term route out of poverty for thousands of people in some of the most energy-poor communities in the world, whilst protecting the climate at the same time – tackling poverty effectively through renewable energy. Their climate-friendly approach to the eradication of poverty is worth noting.
To find out more about Renewable World’s projects and fundraising work, visit their website at www.renewable-world.org.