Goat Poop PovertyTransforming inexpensive fibers into fuel using the fungi found in goat poop could be a new way to tackle global poverty.

Anyone who has ever seen a goat knows that these animals are professionals at consuming and digesting almost anything they can manage to get inside their mouths, whether it be straw, corn cobs or even a shirt. The reason these animals are so successful at digesting non-food items is, in part, thanks to the fungi that live in their digestive tracts, which can attack and break down fibrous materials.

Researchers are now looking to these fungi as a way to transform certain plants into alternative energy sources.

According to an article in Forbes Magazine, new research shows that the fungi found in goats’ stomachs – and eventually their excrement – are adaptable enough to stop breaking down goat food and start attacking something new. In this case, plant material for renewable biofuel.

The results are potentially beneficial for addressing global poverty in developing countries.

For a long time, coal has been a popular fuel source in “energy impoverished” nations. The low price tag on the substance makes it a popular energy source for countries like India and China, which are experiencing extreme poverty and rapidly increasing energy demands.

But while cheap, coal is also a major producer of dangerous fossil fuels. According to Rachel Kyte, climate envoy for the World Bank, coal has a powerful negative impact on global poverty, not only through health costs for the world’s poor but through long-term social disadvantages as well.

A Standard & Poor’s assessment found that the more impoverished a country is, the more negatively climate change affects its residents. Floods and agricultural shocks, which come as a result of climate change, often hit low-income people the hardest. This population has no option to migrate, insulate themselves from harm or recoup losses.

The goat poop solution might be just what developing countries need to access a low cost, low impact energy source. It is an unlikely but viable option to lower fossil fuel emissions and move toward clean energy solutions.

Jen Diamond

Sources: Forbes, The Guardian, Think Progress
Photo: Scoopnest

lighting_global_initiativeThe fourth International Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Exhibition was held this past week at the Dubai World Trade Center, UAE, to examine methods of bringing quality, affordable clean lighting for impoverished people.

The conference was hosted by the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), a non-profit formed by the World Bank that works in the private sector to encourage investments in developing countries.

Anita Marangoly George, World Bank Group senior director, stated: “Lack of energy limits job creation and access to health and education. Supporting universal access to reliable modern energy is a priority. Ending poverty will not be possible without adequate energy.”

In partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank and GOGLA have launched the Lighting Global initiative which aims to expand the international off-grid lighting market to reach people not connected by grid electricity.

The Lighting Global initiative has three regional programs – Lighting Africa, Lighting Asia and Lighting Pacific.

In Kenya, the off-grid lighting market has undergone dramatic changes; there has been a shift in lighting technologies and power sources between 2009 and 2014. Incandescent lighting, dry-cell batteries and cheap plastic torches have been replaced by LED lighting, solar power and quality-verified lighting systems with warranties.

In India, the consumer awareness campaign has reached over 250 villages and almost 15,000 people in rural Rajasthan. In partnership with local solar product distributor Frontier Markets, IFC educates rural households on the benefits of clean lighting and on marketing and sales.

Frontier Markets also recruits rural women, “Solar Sahelis,” who aid in educating households on clean energy and marketing. This opportunity for employment has reached 250 women thus far and there are plans to grow the network to 20,000 in the next 4 years.

Anjali Garg, the program manager of the Lighting Asia/India program, said: “We are working on a series of interventions with manufacturers and distributors of solar lighting products to widen access to quality solar lights for rural consumers.”

In 2009, Lighting Global began providing small solar lanterns and solar lighting systems. To date, over 12 million quality verified products have been made available to over 25 million people. The program is advancing into larger home system kits that will support items like fans, radios and TVs.

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: The National, Lighting Global, Lighting Asia
Photo: Flickr