Sustainable Development in Chad
Chad, a landlocked country in Sub-Saharan Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. With a poverty rate of around 40%, Chad’s life expectancy is only 58.3 years. Only two million of the roughly four million people in dire need of assistance are actually receiving any. Additionally, Chad is surrounded by countries undergoing civil wars, putting further pressure on its infrastructure through refugee flows and inhibiting sustainable development in Chad.

Chad was also hit especially hard by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with 120,000 people living with HIV in 2018. HIV/AIDS in Chad spread quickly due to a lack of healthcare infrastructure. The country has very few healthcare workers. There are only 3.7 doctors for every 100,000 people throughout the entire country. This is even worse in rural areas, given that healthcare workers are concentrated in just 1 region. In this 1 region, 65% of the entire country of Chad’s doctors practice medicine.

Africare Background

Fortunately, some organizations are stepping in order to try and solve this problem through sustainable development. These organizations believe that the best way to ensure that Chad can grow and reduce poverty is to build business infrastructure locally to create long-term growth. One such organization is Africare. Founded as a partnership between Africans and Americans in 1970, this organization has since grown to span much of the continent. Overall, they have donated approximately $2 billion dollars since 1970 towards developing the economies of 38 African countries.

Africare in Chad

The focus of Africare is on sustainable development, attempting to build enough capacity within countries to make sure the country can sustain itself and reduce poverty in the long term. One notable program in Chad is the Initiative for the Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs (IEEWEP). The IEEWP, founded in 2008 seeks to uplift communities by providing education, skills training, and economic assistance to women in order to allow them to start businesses. The ultimate goal is to foster sustainable development in Chad.

Success Stories

The IEEWP has been a big success. The projects to develop human capital have already generated returns. Within the first three years of its existence, 1,600 women were trained by the IEEWP, increasing their incomes by 60%. Africare has also encouraged women to become more involved and take more of a leadership role at a local level. One important way they accomplish this is by making sure that 95% of their field staff are women, thus ensuring that women possess a voice within the communities they serve. Putting women at the forefront of the organization, Africare hopes, can help create sustainable development in Chad.

The IEEWP works by partnering with local communities and entrepreneurs in order to support them. In one program, the IEEWP worked with a group of 18 existing entrepreneurs in order to start a restaurant. In 2006, 18 women, calling themselves “Mbailassem” or “God help us”, partnered to produce cassava together on a farm. Seeing their drive, the IEEWP decided to help Mbailassem start a restaurant in Southern Chad.

After initially assisting in running the restaurant, and helping with some financial objectives, the restaurant eventually became economically sustainable and paid their loans back within a year. The women of Mbailassem also succeeded in starting a new location of their restaurant, further improving both their own economic situation and the economic situation of the communities they are working in. Africare hopes that entrepreneurs like Mbailassem can help build sustainable development in Chad, and ultimately all across Africa.

Moving Forward

Overall, Chad is struggling to see long-term growth across the country. However, progress on a smaller scale in individual communities concerning the growth of businesses shows some promise. Applying this same model in various communities across the country could help foster sustainable development in Chad.

Thomas Gill

Photo: Flickr

How the DFC is Investing in a Sustainable Future for MozambiqueThe USA’s Development Finance Corporation (DFC) just spent $3.6 billion in investments worldwide, with roughly half this amount going toward a sustainable future for Mozambique.

The project consists of an offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) project created by the U.S. Anadarko Petroleum and owned by the French oil company Total SE, which will help grow the country’s economy by making it one of the biggest LNG exporters in the world. Its strategic location makes business with markets like Asia, Europe and South Africa very viable. The goal is to bolster Mozambique’s annual GDP to as high as $15 billion a year, stabilizing the country’s economy and encouraging everlasting growth.

Poverty in Mozambique

Mozambique is currently one of the poorest countries in the world, largely in part by corrupt government officials. It ranked 146 out of 180 in a 2019 transparency perception index, and in a study conducted by a Norwegian research institute, the country suffered a $4.9 billion annual increase in corruption from just 2004 to 2014 alone.

In recent times, it has been observed that poverty is decreasing in urban zones. The national poverty index as of today is around 41-46% of the population. This is good news compared to the country’s 80% poverty rate in 1990—making it at the time one of the countries most entrenched in poverty. However, the country still suffers from inequality between urban and rural zones. Poverty reduction in the south is 18%; contrastively, the north saw an 11% increase in poverty rates. However, there is hope that the United States’s renewable natural gas investments can offset this stark disparity, pushing for a prosperous and sustainable future for Mozambique.

Obstacles to a Sustainable Future in Mozambique

With new sustainable projects in action, comes the rise of Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo (ASWJ), an Islamic insurgent militant group known for their terroristic attacks in small villages. Since the start of the LNG project, the group has been advancing by facilitating attacks in large city centers, even killing eight LNG project employees at a construction site near the Tanzania border.

Currently, the ASWJ does not have the arms capability of reaching the significant sites that are heavily guarded, but they still have the potential to pose a looming threat to other smaller project sites that do not have as much security. As the group advances, Total SE must take proactive measures to counteract attacks, given the unprecedented violence that has taken place as ASWJ asserts its presence amid the new oil plant.

The DFC is also giving Mozambique a $200 million loan to build power infrastructure. This will help the country become self-sufficient by using domestic gas to increase power generation, as well as providing affordable and sustainable electricity, furthering the country’s goal for a central electricity system. The country currently has one of the lowest electrification rates in the world, so this will be a massive step forward in bringing essential, environmentally-sound infrastructure, paving the way for a sustainable future for Mozambique.

The United States sees a potential future for Mozambique, and it is showing its optimism by allocating a hefty amount of its global investments into this single country alone. With this funding, the country can build up essential infrastructure like central electricity, as well as exponentially increase its national GDP with the help of the renewable LNG plant, all of which will reshape the lives of many citizens who have only known poverty for so long.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr

Snack Against Hunger and PovertyPeople can often feel hopeless nowadays when addressing global poverty and hunger on a personal level. One can only donate so many times before it feels pointless. For decades there was a decrease in poverty and hunger all around the world. However, with the pandemic in full force, the numbers are once again increasing.

So what should can each individual consumer do to help those in need and bring these statistics down? They must change daily patterns, so nearly all of their “normal” actions start benefitting someone else. One way is to switch up the food consumers eat. Many brands in a variety of food categories use their profits to fight global poverty and hunger. Switching to one of these brands allows people to effectively snack against hunger and poverty. Below are just a few of the brands aiding in poverty and hunger-reduction.

1. Bobo’s

Bobo’s donates their profits from selling oat-based products to eight organizations. Two of the organizations focus on food security in the U.S. (Community Food Share and Conscious Alliance), and one nonprofit provides housing for low-income families (Habitat for Humanity). Get in a dose of nutritious oats to snack against hunger and poverty.

2. This Saves Lives

This Saves Lives has something for everyone. They have 10 different flavor options, a variety of kid’s options and five types of crispy treats. For each purchase, This Saves Lives provides a calorie-dense packet of paste filled with nutrients to a child in need. So far, over 24 million packets have been sent out!

3. Barnana

Barnana is a company that produces plantain-based chips in normal chip form, tortilla style and flavor bites. All consumers can find a chip that will satisfy whether that’s salty or sweet. The plantains used for the chips are upcycled from those that were deemed not perfect enough for mainstream market standards. By upcycling the produce, Barnana fights food waste and secures extra income for small scale farmers that depend on every sale.

4. Project 7

Project 7 is a healthy candy brand that makes gummies, lollipops and everything in between. They partner with nonprofits to help the seven areas of need: healing, saving, housing, food, drink, teaching and hope. Make chewing a life-giving activity and snack against hunger and poverty.

5. Beanfields

Beanfields is another company that creates chips both sweet and salty, similar to Barnana. The company — centered in a kitchen and not a boardroom — cooks up a variety of bean-based tortilla chips and cracklings. They get creative by producing an environment-conscious snack while also supporting people in need. Beanfields partners with Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps ex-gang members find peace and stability in their new lives. Homeboy Industries partners with many nonprofits fighting hunger and poverty that provide ex-offenders jobs and a sense of community.

Buying snacks and snacking are often mindless activities. Helping people should have that same ease and it does. Yet, it often falls on the back burner and gets forgotten. Buying from companies donating to those in need is one easy solution. People can enjoy their favorite foods in a more effective way. Why just snack when one can snack against hunger and poverty?

Anna Synakh
Photo: Flickr

DouglaPrieta Works
In many cases of migration, dangers from gangs and community violence force people to leave their homes. Migrants also tend to flee because of economic challenges and persecution. A few women in Mexico who were part of these forced removals did not want to move to a new country. It was important for these women to stay where their families, cultures and traditions existed despite difficulties like finding sustainable jobs in Mexico. As a result, they decided to move to Agua Prieta, Mexico and become a part of the family at DouglaPrieta Works.

The Beginning

DouglaPrieta Work is a self-help organization that women founded to help the poor. Specifically, the founders had the dream of procuring the means to stay in their home country through the creation of a self-sufficiency co-op. To fund this, the women sell handmade goods such as reusable bags, earrings, winter accessories, dolls and more. They sell these beautiful crafts throughout Agua Prieta, neighboring cities and even in the United States. Their efforts all center back to the main goal of promoting “a mutual-aid ethic among community members, with the goal of economic self-sufficiency.”

How it Works

The first step in economic security is education. The women at DouglaPrieta Works understand this and all self-teach. They work together to learn how to sew, knit, craft, cook and read. The women utilize these skills to then sustain themselves, their families and the co-op. To further support themselves, the group incorporated a farm next to their co-op. They use the fruits and vegetables they grow for cooking. The women encourage sustainable food security through culturally-appropriate foods based on the needs of the people in their community. The group also built a woodshop to craft furniture for the community to maximize the benefits of their surrounding resources. The co-op does not exclude the children in all of this work either. Oftentimes, their children learn the skills along with them and work with each other in school.

Actions

In 2019, they led an initiative where people in their town could donate canned goods and receive a handmade reusable bag in return. This program allowed the women of DouglaPrieta Works able to donate hundreds of canned goods to those in need. Additionally, they were able to provide reusable bags to the community in order to encourage limited plastic bag use to better the environment.

DouglaPrieta Works often provides migrants working at its co-op with funds to help them and their families survive the journey of migration. There is a nearby migrant shelter in Agua Prieta, C.A.M.E, to house the travelers. While at the co-op, many migrants work in the woodshop at AguaPrieta Works in exchange for meals, funds and friendship.

Students and groups interested in learning about the U.S./Mexico border are welcome to join the women at DouglaPrieta Works for a meal, as the women provide stories and information about the border. The power of education and inclusivity is a core value at DouglaPrieta Works.

Helping Out

Overall, incredible work is occurring in the town of Agua Prieta, Mexico. These women are sustaining themselves to stay in the country they call home and they are providing food, resources and work for migrants. Their children are able to learn and grow together, as well as eat healthy, organic meals from the garden. To learn more about the co-op, visit its website.

Naomi Schmeck
Photo: Flickr

SDG Goal 16 in Germany
With an index score of 80.8, Germany ranks fifth among all U.N. member states for progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The strategies and efforts for SDG Goal 16 in Germany, particularly help it to stand out as an international spearhead for sustainable development.

What is SDG Goal 16?

SDG Goal 16 calls for countries to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Global progress is measured via the Sustainable Development Report, which includes the following indicators for SDG Goal 16:

  • Homicide rates
  • Percentage of unsentenced detainees in the prison population
  • Percentage of population who feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live
  • Qualitative assessment of property rights
  • Percentage of children younger than age 5 with birth registrations
  • Corruption Perception Index
  • Percentage of population ages 5 to 14 involved in child labor
  • Exports of major conventional weapons
  • Press Freedom Index
  • Persons held in prison

For all but one of these indicators, Germany is on track to maintain SDG Goal 16 achievement, rendering its progress towards this goal substantial. According to the German Federal Association for Sustainability, the country has adopted several measures to ensure the achievement of SDG Goal 16 in Germany. Moreover, Germany’s progress may allow it to serve as a model for other U.N. member states.

A Closer Look

Germany’s role on the world stage has been critical towards fulfilling the SDGs by 2030. The country’s National Sustainability Strategy of 2016 has been central to its achievements thus far. The strategy covers additional goals for development cooperation and outlines a long-term process of sustainable development. Although originally introduced by the German government in 2002, the country revised its strategy in 2016 to align with the SDGs. Now, Germany regularly revisits its principles and parameters every two years.

Updating the National Sustainability Strategy in 2018 was especially effective for SDG Goal 16 in Germany. The changes introduced objectives that refocused international development and institution-building. Some of the panel’s recommendations included increased accountability and transparency in international financial institutions. Further recommendations also included support for sustainable practices, internationally. Importantly, the peer review also called for the incorporation of sustainable development in curricula throughout all levels of the education systems. This demonstrates Germany’s clear commitment to building sustainable, inclusive institutions for the long-term.

Notably, the indicator trends for SDG Goal 16 in Germany also suggest positive outcomes in sustainable development and institution-building. The country has a Press Freedom Index of 14.60 and a Property Rights value of 5.31. The country also achieved a long-term objective in 2018, i.e., 100% of children born (younger than age 5) had their births registered with the relevant national civil authorities.

Recent Updates

Germany’s federal government intends to further update its National Sustainability Strategy in 2020, taking into account the expert advice from another peer review. As for the SDG Goal 16 indicators, exports of major conventional weapons is an area in need of improvement for Germany — given the country’s index of 2.04 in 2019. German arms exports increased by 65% during that year, whereas the previous three years saw consistent decreases.

Despite this, Germany remains “committed to peace and justice worldwide” when promoting sustainable development practices. From protecting human rights to forwarding inclusive governance, the country remains on track for achieving SDG Goal 16 by the year 2030.

Rachel Moloney
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Egypt
Innovations in poverty eradication in Egypt have taken a sustainable and decentralized form in the last four years. Through local initiatives and collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Egypt has incorporated social welfare and development programs aimed at improving the standard of living in its poorest governorates and providing a permanent path out of poverty for future generations.

With Egypt’s poverty rate rising to 5% in 2019, how exactly does Egypt plan to have a “competitive, balanced, diversified, and knowledge based economy” that would eliminate poverty by 2030?

UNDP Sustainable Development Strategies

One significant innovation in poverty eradication in Egypt is the UNDP’s adoption of a social entrepreneurial and minority centralized model. Through partnerships with Egypt’s public sector, private companies and civil society, the UNDP not only helped prioritize economic development but also made women, children and disabled people a focal point.

  1. The GSER Program: The GSER program under the Misr El-Kheir Foundation, a nonprofit development institution in Egypt, organizes social innovation camps with UNDP’s support. Youth from all parts of Egypt co-scheme solutions to improve the livelihoods in Fayoum’s fishing community, one of Egypt’s poorest governorates. Accomplishments include a redesigned shrimp peeling table for fishermen’s wives, which advanced hygiene and shell quality in Fayoum.
  2. The IBM Academic Initiative: The IBM Academic Initiative invested $70 million with the objective of providing over 25 million Africans free digital skills training and launching one of its regional offices in Egypt. UNDP’s contributions will help Egypt cultivate a STEM-oriented workforce through access to IBM’s cutting edge tools and course material.
  3. The Game Changer Fellowship: The Game Changer Fellowship is a one-year program that provides incubation support to aspiring Egyptian game designers through a partnership between UNDP Egypt and the Engagement Lab at Emerson College in Boston, U.S.A. This has enabled Egypt’s youth to uniquely approach development challenges by stimulating behavior change. Given that 84% of Egypt’s unemployment rate comprises young men and women, such initiatives are imperative in enhancing human capital in order to prevent an underdeveloped workforce.
  4. The Mobile Ramp App: The Mobile Ramp App helps Egypt’s disabled community lead easier, more integrated lives. UNDP partnered with Fab Lab Egypt and the Misr El-Kheir Foundation to launch a media campaign that promotes and teaches sign language as well as maps out locations with available ramps.

J-PAL’s (Abdul Latif Jamil Poverty Action Lab) Innovative Research

Despite these innovations in poverty eradication in Egypt, reports determined that there were 32.5% of Egyptian citizens living below the poverty line in 2019. According to J-PAL, a global research center aiming to reduce poverty, this extreme poverty figure of 32.5% indicates that the policies and programs designed to alleviate Egypt’s poverty are not as effective as they could be.

In order to achieve successful innovations in poverty eradication in Egypt, J-PAL’s MIT branch is launching a research center at the American University in Cairo. Through research and professional training to inform evidence-based policies and engage governments and relevant NGOs, Egypt will establish a culture of empirical policy making so that it can adequately evaluate the efficacy of its plans. 

Institutionalizing Social Innovation and Sustainable Development

While international efforts facilitate innovations in poverty eradication in Egypt, government and grassroots organizations in Egypt have adopted technological and sustainable based solutions to economic problems through their own localized projects and findings.

  1. The Egyptian Government: The Egyptian government is investing EGP 47bn ($3 billion) to Upper Egypt governorates in its 2020-2021 fiscal year. This is a 50% increase from 2019, representing 25% of total government investments.
  2. The Takaful and Karama Program: The Takaful and Karama program provides income support to the poor through a conditional and unconditional cash transfer program that aims to increase food consumption and necessary healthcare. Nevin al Qabbaj, the Social Solidarity Minister, reported that by 2020 around 2.5 million Egyptian families have benefited from the program.
  3. SEKEM: SEKEM, an Egyptian sustainable development organization, is working with the Egyptian government to implement Egypt Vision 2030. The plan includes 12 “pillars” targeting economic development, social justice, innovative research, education, health and the environment. Additionally, along with local NGOs, SEKEM has revitalized Egypt’s desert land and developed its agricultural businesses using biodynamic methods.

Egypt’s ability to mitigate poverty across all demographics using sustainable, innovative and ethical practices is testimony to its economic and cultural prosperity. Egypt’s innovations in poverty eradication are unique in that they exemplify the duality of individual, entrepreneurial growth in the private sphere and collective, righteous leadership in the public sphere.

– Joy Arkeh
Photo: Flickr

sustainable development in the philippines
The Federation of Peoples Sustainable Development Cooperative (FPSDC) is a group of 154 cooperatives and civil society organizations in the Philippines — focused on improving the lives of marginalized people. They provide financial support, technical training and partnership opportunities to local business enterprises to promote self-reliant, sustainable and peaceful communities.

Origins of the FPSDC

The FPSDC grew out of the Partnership for Development Assistance in the Philippines Incorporated (PDAP) and its Central Loan Fund (CLF). Filipino and Canadian NGOs established the PDAP in 1986 to aid local organizations in the development of autonomous communities of marginalized peoples in the Philippines. The CLF facilitated financial assistance relationships among PDAP member organizations. In 1998, 21 PDAP NGOs and cooperatives expanded the CLF to create the FPSDC.

The 4Ps

The FPSDC names “People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace” as the canons of sustainable development in the Philippines. Their efforts focus on providing local businesses fair market access and sustainable growth opportunities to promote local prosperity and instigate social change — which in turn, engenders peaceful communities and inter-community relationships. The FPSDC gives member organizations the tools to develop self-reliant economic and social support within marginalized communities in the Philippines.

FPSDC Services & Digital Presence

FPSDC offers five unique services. The cooperative housing service promotes sustainable development in the Philippines through the construction of affordable and environmentally-conscious homes, in food-secure communities.  The product distribution and marketing service helps local businesses enter competitive markets and encourages their commitment to environmental and social consciousness. The federation places particular emphasis on expanding opportunities for farms like Farms and Cottages, which the FPSDC helped to introduce to 457 supermarkets in Manila.

The socialized credit service offers a variety of loans to help businesses committed to job creation and sustainable development in the Philippines generate and reinvest money. The investment facility service manages organizations’ investments in marginalized communities. Their main goal is to help optimize wealth generation for both the financiers and the communities.  Finally, the institution-building service helps FPSDC organizations expand their institutions and their influence in marginalized Filipino communities.

In conjunction with the RedRoot Artists Cooperative and the Cooperative Development Authority, the FPSDC created a website to disseminate products made by cooperatives in the Philippines. E-cooptrade.coop, for example, markets primarily locally produced and organic products. The website also promotes local social organizations.

FPSDC Co-op Ville

The FPSDC continues to build a cooperative housing development in Barangay Mambuaya Cagayan de Oro City as a resettlement community for victims of Typhoon Sendong. A massive typhoon struck the Philippines in 2011 from December 16 to 18 — killing more than 1,200 people and leaving more than 60,000 homeless. The FPSDC Co-op Ville houses 130 families on 2.5 hectares of land in addition to a multipurpose hall, courtyard, health center and education center. The federation is now building a bed and breakfast in the village to serve as a self-reliant business opportunity for the community.

Empowering Communities to Prosper

The FPSDC organizes, connects and offers financial and marketing support to enterprises committed to the sustainable development of marginalized communities, in the Philippines. The opportunities provided by the federation put power in the hands of the people it serves. These opportunities then foster independent, prosperous and sustainable communities among the most disadvantaged people in the Philippines.

– Avery Saklad
Photo: Flickr

  Microgrid technology in African countriesIf you take a trip to Google Earth’s nighttime view of the world, you’ll see areas like the United States, Europe and Japan bursting with light. In these countries, electricity freely flows through a massive electrical grid, whirring through power plants and millions of electrical wires. Alternatively, satellite images of the African continent’s 54 countries show vast dark areas with a few scattered hotspots. However, this unequal spread of electrification may change in the near future. Microgrid technology in African countries is powering thousands of community’s electrical needs. The African continent’s electrification illustrates the broader trend of sustainable energy’s emergence in the developing world.

What is Microgrid Technology?

In simple terms, microgrid technology is a decentralized version of the massive electrical grids that exist in most developed nations. More definitively, a microgrid is “a local energy grid with control capability” that can work autonomously to both produce and supply power to small communities. The autonomy of microgrids limits the negative aspects of larger power grids, such as rolling blackouts.

In developed countries, certain essential businesses use microgrids to ensure a stable power source. For example, hospitals use microgrids in case a natural disaster would cut off power to large scale power grids. In many developing nations, governments are eagerly implementing microgrid technology in areas without pre-existing infrastructure.

Another benefit of microgrid technology is the easy integration of renewable energy sources. Presently, companies building microgrids in developing nations tend to rely on solar or wind energy due to their growing cost-efficiency. Peter Ganz, who studied microgrids through his master’s program in environmental management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and currently works as Senior Energy Storage Analyst at EDF Renewables North America, said that “The idea that many businesses have in developing countries is to make these microgrids sustainable. This is so that, as developing countries gain energy access, they’re not stuck with this large fossil-reliant grid that we’re dealing with here in the United States, the EU and other large, developed nations.”

Africa’s Need for Electricity

Many companies like PowerGen, Energicity and Tesvolt are installing microgrids in several African nations to power homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. Many regions of Africa provide the ideal environment for sustainable solar energy. In addition, the overall cost of installing microgrids has dropped an estimated 25 to 30% since 2014.

Centering on Africa for microgrid technology development is necessary for worldwide electrification. Today, 13% of the world’s population does not have access to electricity. In particular, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for almost two-thirds of the world’s population without power.

In the mass movements for sustainable energy around the world, developing nations without existing electricity infrastructure see some advantages. Due to this lack of infrastructure, developing communities can begin to electrify local homes, businesses, and services with renewable sources. The integration of renewable energy into the grid will effectively prevent any future need to rely on fossil fuels.

PowerGen’s Work in African Nations

Founded in 2011, PowerGen is one of the main organizations serving on the frontlines of microgrid development in African nations. With a mission striving to provide “cleaner, smarter” and “decentralized” energy to Africa, PowerGen has installed sustainable energy utilities for more than 50,000 Africans who previously lacked electricity. The organization is far-reaching, deploying microgrids in Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Benin and Niger. PowerGen has also set up offices and planned projects in several other African countries The company also develops commercial and industrial (C&I) solar power for more widescale, sustainable electricity.

According to a statement by PowerGen CEO Sam Slaughter, the organization’s microgrids “typically serve 100-500 connections” and “have a geographic radius under one kilometer.” The grids can power anything running off electricity including refrigerators, TVs, electric cars and mobile phones. The payment is affordable for African users who use an easy “pay-as-you-go” system via “mobile money telecoms services” or cash.

PowerGen hopes to expand energy access to one million more Africans by 2025. One of the biggest challenges in installing new power in the continent is government cooperation and acceptance of microgrids, but the organization is actively working to broaden its microgrid coverage everywhere.

Importance of Smart Power in Developing Nations

In the mass movements for sustainable energy around the world, developing nations are actually at an advantage; since many developing communities have no or unreliable access to electricity, they can begin their energy journey with renewable sources, effectively cutting off reliance on fossil fuels in the future.

“Our electric grid is very much the product of a time before renewables when most, if not all, generation was from carbon-intensive fossil fuels,” said Ganz. “Now that we have developed technologies that are carbon-free or carbon-neutral, it would be great to help these [developing] countries achieve the levels of grid resiliency and electric reliability that we [in developed countries] have without the carbon intensity.”

– Grace Ganz
Photo: Flickr

Ecobricks Turning Waste Into InfrastructureAs the population grows, environmentally-friendly building materials are becoming more and more necessary. Ecobricks are just that. Ecobricks are reusable building bricks that are made by packing clean, non-recyclables (including single-use plastics and styrofoam, which can be toxic to the environment) into a plastic bottle. The bottles are then used to build things such as furniture, walls and buildings. Ecobricks are a mechanism of turning waste into infrastructure.

Ideally, a long-term solution to protect the environment would require a massive decrease in global production and the use of single-use plastic. Ecobricks do not offer a solution to this problem; however, they are an efficient short-term solution for plastics that already exist or are currently in production. In addition to upcycling plastic, the process of making Ecobricks is far better for the environment than the brick and cinder block. This makes putting industries in developing countries a cheaper option for building material.

Ecobricks In Latin America

Communities around the world are turning to Ecobricks as an efficient and responsible option for building infrastructure affordably. Hug it Forward is an organization working in Latin America that focuses its attention on access to education and how modern consumer culture generates billions of tons of inorganic waste on a yearly basis.

The organization uses Ecobricks as a solution to both by constructing bottle classrooms with the materials. These classrooms provide safe and comfortable learning environments at a lower price than if they were to be strictly brick and mortar structures, and it is more environmentally-friendly. Hug it Forward believes that working with communities to implement these classrooms is an investment in the community’s resilience and self-empowerment.

Ecobricks in Africa

Ecobricks are building infrastructure in Africa. Greyton, a township in South Africa, is the country’s first transition initiative in an effort to address the issues many townships face as a result of apartheid and social inequalities. These issues include a lack of affordable housing and effective waste management systems. The goal of this transition initiative is to turn Greyton into an eco-village through projects like creating community gardens and banning plastic bags.

Ecobricks are a huge part of Greyton’s efforts and are being used to build schools, furniture and other necessities. At the same time, they reduce the number of non-recyclables that would make their way to nearby landfills. The township has even started a Trash to Treasure Festival, which is a music festival that increases environmental awareness. At this festival, people make, exchange and even submit Ecobricks to win prizes. After each festival, the Ecobricks are added to Greyton’s infrastructure projects, such as adding an Ecobrick classroom to the town.

Eco-Future

Ecobricks are building resources that are affordable and better for the environment. They provide attainable infrastructure for the communities that need it most. These bricks are an effective short-term solution to the abundant non-recyclables littering the planet. They are an avenue of development for communities around the world. Ecobricks are a sustainable solution that provides resources by turning waste into infrastructure.

Treya Parikh
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sustainable Technologies Solving Water Scarcity
More than 1 billion people live in areas with water scarcity or the lack of access to freshwater resources. However, current innovations are tackling water scarcity in creative and environmentally friendly ways. Here are five sustainable technologies solving water scarcity.

5 Sustainable Technologies Solving Water Scarcity

  1. Solar-powered Water Pumps: These pumps use energy from the sun to power electric pumps, which extract water from the ground. The price and technology have evolved in recent years, allowing solar-powered water pumps to be a more affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable solution to water scarcity. Solar panels last approximately 25 years, requiring little maintenance throughout this lifetime. Also, the cost of solar panels that the pumps use has decreased by 80 percent. Solar-powered water pumps are most viable in areas with high solar insolation, particularly, many developing nations in Africa, South America and South Asia. Specifically, solar-powered water pumps have alleviated water scarcity for 40,000 people in Marimanti, Kenya, a country with annual sunshine.
  2. Solar-powered Desalination Units: Desalination technology harnesses energy from the sun and converts seawater into fresh, potable water. A system that Solar Water Solutions, a Finland-based startup, designed produces up to 3,500 liters of water per hour. Additionally, the system does not require batteries or oil-based fuel and it does not impart a large carbon footprint. Additionally, Solar Water Solutions has placed solar-powered desalination units in Kenya and Namibia. The desalination units are providing cheap, clean water to local communities. Additionally, large scale implementation of the technology could help solve water scarcity.
  3. Fog Catchers: Mesh nets trap freshwater from fog and eventually drips into the collection trays. A piping network then carries the water to the village. This system is free, clean and environmentally sustainable. People are using fog catching systems to provide water to communities in Chile, Peru, Ghana, South Africa and more. The largest fog catcher project is on the slopes of Mount Boutmezguida in southern Morocco.  Every day, about 1,000 people use water that fog captured for everything from drinking to agricultural use. 
  4. Portable Filters: In particular, one Swiss company, Vestergaard Frandsen, has developed a portable water filter. Lifestraw is a gravity-powered plastic tube, that people can use as a drinking straw. The filtration system eliminates protozoa, bacteria, chemical compounds and dissolved metals. Each Lifestraw can filter up to 4,000 liters of water — enough potable water to last three years for one person. Additionally, this portable filter eliminates the need for single-use plastics and fuel-combustion for water sanitization. Further, LifeStraw has partnered with the World Health Organization and the United Nations to alleviate the shortage of potable water for more than 64 countries, including Haiti, Rwanda and Kenya. 
  5. Drinkable Books: Each page of the drinkable book is a filter that turns raw sewage into potable water. The drinkable book houses silver and/or copper nanoparticles that kill bacteria when water passes through it. Motivated by a desire to create a water filtration system that uses greener chemistry, researchers designed the tool at Carnegie Mellon University. Field trials have shown that the drinkable book can eliminate 99 percent of bacteria in water. At the 25 contaminated water sources in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Haiti and Bangladesh, these trials have been promising enough that people can distribute the drinkable book commercially. Each book holds enough filtration sheets to filter clean water for four years.

For the millions of people across the globe lacking access to clean water, these are five sustainable technologies solving water scarcity. Technology like these has the potential to make a substantial difference in the world in terms of sustainable solutions for sanitation and access to water.

– Kayleigh Rubin
Photo: Wikimedia