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Today more than 700 people are impoverished because of a lack of meeting basic needs and human rights. Innovative solutions provide different routes to solving the issue of global poverty.

Canadian student, Salima Visram, set out to revolutionize the way of life for those who live in deteriorated conditions with an ingenious solution that literally sheds light on the lives of students. Her invention: new solar backpacks equipped with a source of light that will charge all day and can be activated at night in order for students to study.

Instead of using toxic kerosene lamps, alternative technology allows for clean energy to be used. Not only is this a green solution, but also an economic one, as households can grab a backpack as their energy source instead of constantly replenishing their kerosene supply.

These solar backpacks have the potential to positively impact states that struggle with poverty, especially Kenya, where 92 percent of households utilize kerosene lamps.

The first to receive Visram’s backpacks were the residents of Kikambala village, where she raised enough money to produce 2,000 solar backpacks. Each backpack consists of a solar panel, battery pack and light.

This occurred in January after she raised money via crowdfunding site, Indiegogo. Since then, Visram has said she wishes to “expand the project to a hundred schools in the county within the next year and a half.”

Sticking to her own agenda, in September, Visram delivered 500 backpacks to the students of Kikambala Primary School, marking her business’ first official order. This is not the only milestone Visram wishes to achieve, however, as her goals go hand in hand with Masomo Bora—Kenya’s mission to provide education to all children.

Visram’s dream began as a public funding project on Indiegogo, but continues today in hopes of bringing as many students “into the light” as possible.

Fortunately, the costs of production are cheap, and in two months alone an additional $50,000 has been raised—more than doubling the initial capital of $40,000 required to manufacture the first 2,000 solar backpacks.

The backpacks are able to provide between seven and eight hours of light using only three to four hours of sunlight. As more and more solar backpacks become available, the hope is that the 4,000 deaths that occur daily due to kerosene-induced illness will be significantly reduced.

Emilio Rivera

Sources: Indiegogo, IT News Africa, Compassion International
Photo: Conscious Living TV

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In early March, twenty Ghanaian start-up companies completed the first national boot camp designed to promote “local entrepreneurship and innovation in clean technologies.” The boot camp, sponsored by the new Ghana Climate Innovation Center, aimed to highlight Ghanaian entrepreneurs who have been active in developing locally feasible solutions to global climate change.

If current climate trends persist, experts predict dire consequences for Ghana’s economy, people and overall development. According to the World Bank’s report, “Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change” and Ghana’s National Climate Change Policy Framework, crop yields “are predicted to decline by 7% by 2050 due to higher temperatures.”

Meanwhile, the reports predict that sea levels are expected to rise over one meter over the course of the 21st century, “causing the erosion of 1,120 square kilometers of land.”

The boot camp followed a rigorous nation-wide application process overseen by the World Bank and its global grant program Information for Development, the sponsors of the Ghana Climate Innovation Center. According to the World Bank, only the companies with the “highest level of innovation, technical expertise, and potential for commercial success” were invited to the boot camp.

The boot camp participants are pioneers in some of Ghana’s most prosperous green technology sectors, including biofuels, solar energy and waste and water management.

The boot camp represents the first project for the Ghana Climate Innovation Center, a newly implemented institute that draws support from the World Bank, InfoDev, and the Danish International Development Cooperation Agency.

In the future, the GCIC hopes to “assist more than 20,000 households to increase resiliency to climate change through improved access to potable water, availability of clean energy, and more sustainable agriculture techniques.”

Katrina Beedy

Sources: InfoDev 1, InfoDev 2, World Bank
Photo: Green Ghanaian

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Sasol and General Electric have developed new technology that will “clean waste water, while also providing biogas as a by-product for power generation.” Sasol and General Electric’s new technology is also known as Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor Technology (AnMBR). AnMBR technology will be developed further at a new demonstration plant at Sasol’s R&D Campus at its Sasol One Site in Sasolburg.

According to Ernst Obersholster, Sasol Group Executive for International Energy, Sasol is a “world-leader in gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology and synthetic fuels production. While sophisticated water treatment technologies are already employed at Sasol’s major operations, this particular development will enhance our efficiency even further.” In addition, Tim Schweikert, President and CEO for GE South Africa, has mentioned that “GE is excited to be partnering with Sasol on this initiative that further outlines our commitment to supporting the sustainable development of South Africa with advanced infrastructure technologies, services and solutions.” According to Schweikert, “The partnership of General Electric and Sasol demonstrates what the private sector can achieve by working together for the benefit of growing the economy and making the economy competitive”.

The AnMBR system focuses on examining and obtaining anaerobic micro-organisms, or organisms that are able to live in environments devoid of oxygen. These organisms can be found in:

– Sediment layers on floors of lakes, dams and the ocean.

-The human digestive system

-Under the earth surface

-Deserts and mountain peaks

These micro-organisms break down proteins and carbohydrates through a process called hydrolysis. These proteins and carbohydrates are then turned into to simpler building blocks, such as sugars that provide food to the micro-organisms. Once the micro-organisms digest the food, waste is produced. The waste produced is bio-gas, which can be used as feedstock to generate power. According to Thulani Dlamini, Executive Manager Research and Development at Sasol Technology, “The organics in waste water generated from our operations have proven to be the ideal food, or substrate, for Anaerobic micro-organisms.” As a result, the microorganisms feed while cleaning contaminated water.  Dlamini has mentioned that the companies will continue working on this clean-water initiative. Dlamini stated, “We will now continue to explore and develop this technology further with the potential for commercial application to our future GTL facilities.” This innovative clean water technology will be commercially ready early in 2015.

Stephanie Olaya

Sources: EIN News

John_Kerry_India

Clean energy is an important factor for a flourishing country, and over the last few months, India has fallen from fourth into eighth place on the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index. To combat this issue, John Kerry made a visit to India to discuss possible solutions. One of the main topics on the agenda was the impacts of climate change, which means that the country’s fall on the Index is an even more pressing and important issue.

As a result of the three-day trip, USAID has agreed to make an investment worth $100 million to help build up India’s clean energy programs. The organization is partnering with a U.S.-based investment company to facilitate the investment with an India-based company, and the enormous amount of money will go to a private fund in the Clean Technology Sector.

USAID focuses on many areas to improve global development, one of which is protecting the environment and preventing global climate change. Climate change hurts the poor the most, so the organization makes the effort to promote clean energy as much as possible. In the past, they have helped millions of people who depend on the environment live cleaner and healthier lives, and by 2016 the organization plans to partner with 20 countries like India to help create more opportunities for clean and renewable energy.

Rajiv Shah, the USAID Administrator, explained that investment can help lower carbon emissions in the country as well as create new energy development opportunities. He also stated that it could create more energy capacity to light another ten thousand families’ homes in India in the upcoming years.

– Katie Brockman
Source: International Business Times, USAID
Photo: Politico