WISIONS of Sustainability
Our mission is to empower individuals and communities to transform the production and use of energy so that it effectively enables sustainable development. Read more about WISIONS activities, goals and background.
Solar power for a ‘community fridge’ in Nepal
News from WISIONS posted on December 16th, 2020
The concept of the “community fridge” follows a simple but effective approach. The small-scale farmers amass the vegetables produced on their farms in the highlands of Nepal in the cold storage facility. After putting aside sufficient vegetables for their own consumption, the remaining vegetables can be stored and processed for commercial sale at the next local market. Before the installation of the “community fridge”, the farmers were forced to sell their produce immediately after harvest as they did not have the means to keep it fresh, which resulted in oversupply and low revenue. Preliminary numbers already indicate that the community has reduced the amount of food waste by 50% and that the increase in vegetable sales has created additional income for the families.
The involvement of the community was key to the success of the project and now the community owns and manages the system via a committee of local farmers who operate it. The holistic approach included the design of an innovative and sustainable energy solution, capacity-building for beneficiaries, value chain management and the raising of public awareness within the community about the project. We look forward to sharing future updates about this project!
Gender equality, sustainable development and energy access
News from WISIONS posted on December 14th, 2020
The case study reviews the experiences of the micro-hydro (MHP) system built in the Pinthali village in Nepal over 20 years ago. The project took gender mainstreaming activities into account from the planning stage and these proved essential for including local women in the decision-making processes. The project also monitored the effects of the MHP on women in the village, including changes in daily activities, health impacts and increased household incomes.
Based on this and other experiences, ARE has produced recommendations for action at three levels (organisational, community and investor), which include:
• Community level: to inform every stage of energy access project design with data on local gender dynamics.
• Organisational level: to integrate gender mainstreaming into company business models and organisations’ programmes, and to develop a Gender Action Plan with clear objectives to guide the process.
• Investor level: to make a stronger case for gender-lens investment, and to provide financial incentives to investees with good gender practices and female empowerment programmes.
Thinking outside the box for SDG 7
News from WISIONS posted on December 11th, 2020
The latest data on progress towards SDG7, which was published before the onset of the pandemic, revealed that the number of people across the world who lack access to electricity fell to 789 million in 2018. However, the global population without access to clean cooking solutions remained unchanged at 2.8 billion. The increase in the share of renewables in the global energy mix showed signs of slowing down and energy efficiency gains still failed to reach their potential. We have also recently learnt that finance for energy access remains far below the investment needed to achieve SDG7 by 2030 and that this gap is likely to widen as a result of the pandemic.
With less than a decade left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, thinking “outside the box” with regards to sustainable energy in the Global South is crucial. It is widely accepted that innovation can help to overcome technological and financial barriers. Specifically, adapting to local needs is at the core of innovation efforts in energy access.
But what does this look like in practice? Many of our partners have developed tools to facilitate innovation in the context of WISIONS-supported initiatives. For instance, the MHP (Micro Hydropower) Toolkit by the Hydro Empowerment Network facilitates access to technical blueprints, Do-It-Yourself instructions, simulation tools, databases and much more. This provides local MHP practitioners with the opportunity and know-how to become innovators for off-grid energy solutions.
RedBioLAC also pursues bottom-up approaches to innovation. Central to this network’s vision is the use of innovation to develop biodigester designs and implementation concepts that better respond to local needs across Latin America and the Caribbean. For example, a biodigester blueprint from Costa Rica might not fit the specific environmental conditions in Colombia. A WISIONS-supported webinar gave insights into technological advances that were particularly important over the last decade (such as the design of low-cost tubular digesters and the adaptation of designs to suit cold climates). RedBioLAC has also produced a biogas wiki library to support innovation in biodigester technology.
Lastly, financial innovations also bring us closer to achieving SDG7. The Finance Solutions Map by Nexus for Development has created a rich and publicly available database on a range of innovative finance instruments and case-studies geared towards local energy access practitioners in South and Southeast Asia.
To sum up, innovation in energy access does not only mean more sophisticated technology. It is also about tailoring solutions to meet diverse needs and adapting them to local conditions. Sharing knowledge and experiences also lies at the heart of innovative thinking and contributes to the empowerment of local energy practitioners across the Global South.