Practical Action Blogs

    What if the ‘last mile’ was our first priority?

    63rd Commission on the Status of Women logo
    Empowering women in the energy access sector is a no brainer. Including the perspectives and skillsets of over 50% of the population is not just the right thing to do, it benefits businesses materially and financially – as Value4Women and Shell and BURN Manufacturing demonstrate. Given this win-win situation, why are some people still not convinced? Pushing for progress At the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this week I heard that just 18% of Asian Development Bank […]

    March 13th, 2019

    Women central to an effective response to changing climates

    #BalanceforBetter Climate change is now accepted as a global crisis, but solutions have so far been inadequate and have largely ignored human and gender dimensions. This is despite the fact that marginalised and poor people, including women, are affected first and hit hardest. Recent evidence indicates that women’s views, needs and their participation has been largely excluded from the design and planning of climate change responses, including major policies. Moreover, women are often perceived primarily as victims, and not as equal […]

    March 7th, 2019

    Ingenious water and waste solutions changing lives

    On Friday, the world is celebrating International Women’s Day. People around the world will be celebrating women’s achievements whilst calling for a more gender-balanced world. For Practical Action, the day is particularly important. We work with women around the world – helping them find solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems, made worse by persistent gender inequality. We do this by putting ingenious ideas to work so people in poverty can change their world. A good example of our ingenious […]

    March 6th, 2019

    Building resilience from the weakest links

    The weakest link is the limit of strength of the chain. No matter how strong the other links are, individually, the chain can be no stronger. When we engage in international development, we are often challenged to work at the system level.  We are expected as outsiders to be able to understand the complex and complicated series of interconnections of interrelated causes and effects.  But in these systems, doesn’t it follow that the poorest and most hazard prone are the […]

    February 28th, 2019

    Striding Ahead – The Story of How the Livestock Business Centre is Changing Lives

    Livestock as an important segment of the agricultural sector of Bangladesh has seen an exponentially growing demand. Its prospects as a driver of substantial and sustainable socio-economic change are very promising, however, there remains a lot of room for improvement. There has been a dearth of knowledge with regard to the livestock sector, leading to unaddressed gaps. There is a lack of service and quality inputs for the rural farmers, affordable distribution network and absence of private companies’ business hubs […]

    February 26th, 2019

    Jute – the natural alternative to plastic

    Jute retting
    Most families in north-west Bangladesh rely on farming small plots of land to make a living. But it’s hard to make enough and men often have to leave their families to work in cities, leaving women and children without support. Work traditionally done by women earns very low wages. Jute is the second most important crop in Bangladesh after rice. The climate is ideally suited and it was once a major source of foreign exchange but lost out to artificial fabrics. […]

    February 18th, 2019

    Does access to electricity change poor people’s lives?

    Globally, just under one billion people have no access to electricity. This means no effective lighting to study at night, no refrigeration to keep medicines, and limited opportunities to run businesses. The United Nations have set a goal to provide affordable, reliable and modern energy for all by 2030. This is a very challenging goal which at Practical Action we try and support through our energy access work. However, a recent article in the Economist claimed that providing access to electricity […]

    February 15th, 2019

    Supporting the informal sector to deliver effective FSM services

    Next week sees an important gathering of practitioners, government representatives, funders and others focusing Faecal Sludge Management. From lowly beginnings in Durban in 2011, the growing numbers of people gathered at this two-yearly conference demonstrate an increasing recognition of the importance of this issue – supported by the SDG commitment to achieve ‘safely managed’ sanitation for all. Of course, ensuring people have access even to a basic toilet is still the crucial starting point in some places – including in […]

    , | February 14th, 2019

    Taking stock – 10 years of the climate investment funds

    With 3 billion people still lacking access to clean cooking and almost one billion people without electricity, huge amounts of funding are needed to close the energy access gap. The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) are one of the avenues for funding this big challenge. Practical Action has a seat as an observer on the Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Programme (SREP) Committee of CIF and I just spent a week in Morocco attending a Committee meeting, as […]

    February 1st, 2019

    The Solar Challenge

    Practical Action’s new STEM Solar Challenge offers a great opportunity for young people to explore how solar power can transform the lives of people living ‘off-grid’. Set in the context of Practical Action’s work with communities in Gwanda, Zimbabwe who do not have access to mains electricity, the starting point for young people is a whole class activity to make a national electricity grid.  Pupils act as electricity pylons linking cities, towns and villages to power stations with string. The teacher then removes some of the string connections between […]

    January 29th, 2019