Energy | Blogs

  • Powering education in Zimbabwe

    Elizabeth Dunn

    February 21st, 2017

    Globally, 1.3 billion people have no access to energy and it’s this lack of access that is keeping people living in poverty. Energy has the power to transform lives, it enables clinics to offer 24 hour care, for school children to study at night and it enables farmers to irrigate their land with reliable water pumps.Miss Mumpande - Mashaba Primary School

    Practical Action has been working with people across Malawi and Zimbabwe to bring clean and sustainable solar energy to their communities. This project is called Sustainable Energy for Rural Communities and I recently travelled to Zimbabwe to see how energy is changing lives.

    I met Miss Mumpande, who works at the Mashaba Primary School in the Gwanda District. She has taught at the school for eight years and teaches 12-13 year olds. The school now has access to solar power, which means they have electricity for lighting.

    Sadly, it hasn’t always been this way. For years, the school had no access to electricity and they struggled to attract teachers because of it. Teachers would also have to prepare lessons by candle light and the students couldn’t stay late to study because the school was in darkness.

    “Before solar, it was difficult, I wouldn’t prepare the school work well. I had to light candles and prepare. It took two hours, now it only takes one. My eyes would hurt. I wouldn’t prepare my work well, sometimes I made mistakes and had to buy candles myself.”

    Having no electricity also affected her student’s education, she explained how they couldn’t study outside of school, but now they are able to stay late and study in the light. Their grades have improved and they’re now excited to come to class. The school has even started offering night classes for older members of the community.

    Having electricity has had a huge impact on Miss Mumpande, her students and the rest of the school. She said, “Some teachers left because of the problems but now many want to come here because of the electricity.”

    Mashaba Primary school is proof that electricity really can change lives.

    To find out more about the project, click here.

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  • Energy market development and scaling up

    Izdehar Ahmed Mohamed

    February 14th, 2017

    To increase access to clean fuels and spread the benefits to health and environment, Practical Action is scaling up by using the Participatory Market System Development Approach (PMSD).

    This approaches involves all actors and stake holders in a dialogue with communities to discuss barriers and ways to overcome these barriers to further develop market systems for LPG as a clean fuel.

    DSC03049Workshops were held at state and federal levels with government agencies and ministries, the private sector, LPG companies, LPG distribution agents, the Ministry of Finance, energy research and financial institutions.  They joined community representatives to map the market chain and discuss LPG markets, their constraints and how these could be solved.

    The LPG project team leads an influencing process to address barriers. An environment protection forum including all stakeholders at state level and a sustainable energy network at national level, have been established by Practical Action to advocate for alleviation of barriers to the access of poor people to environment friendly technologies. These cover aspects such as tax and duty charges.

    Other activities include:Asha LPG stoves

    1. Linking Women’s Development Associations to LPG companies and financial institutions
    2. Forming saving and loan groups to access loans where the initial cost is a major barrier to poor people’s access to clean fuel technologies
    3. Awareness raising through local and international media, sharing knowledge and experience with all stakeholders and linking private sector social investment departments to carbon finance experience
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  • Towards pro-poor innovation systems for sustainable energy


    January 27th, 2017

    This article is informed by research conducted at Practical Action’s Southern Africa offices in Harare, Zimbabwe as part of a work-based placement at the University of Edinburgh.

    Distributed renewables for access

    The ongoing energy poverty that leaves 1.2 billion people in the world without access to electricity, and 2.7 billion people relying on traditional biomass for cooking is one of the great injustices of our time. Innovation systems need to shift in order to ensure the goal of enabling universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 is achieved. Technologies and business models have emerged that have the potential to live up to the challenge. In particular, Distributed Renewable Energy System (DRES) have tremendous potential to respond rapidly and efficiently to energy poverty, especially in rural areas.

    maintenanceStill, the development of pro-poor innovation systems for sustainable energy access based on DRES faces challenges at multiple levels, as large energy projects continue to be promoted by governments in developing countries and attract support from major development financiers, as go-to solutions for electrification. When small-scale renewable energies are financed, the sum of the smaller projects usually does not even come close to matching the large-scale project both in terms of total capacity of sustainable energy generation and of funding. However, considering the urgent demands of energy poverty, the speed by which small-scale renewables can become operational and the ever-decreasing cost for their installation should favour rural electrification policies based on DRES. The habitual preference for large and mega-projects is also inadequate to effectively address energy poverty as well as provide a sustainable and reliable source for energy in the light of climate change.

    Opportunities for pro-poor innovations

    Technology justice demands stronger efforts by all actors in the innovation systems to address the needs of the poor. Innovation is needed across the board to promote a more holistic understanding of the long-term impacts of energy projects taking account of:

    • Their resilience to climate change and the vulnerability of highly centralised national/regional energy systems to extreme weather events and disasters
    • Their water footprint (cooling of coal power plants) and water requirements (in particular run-of-the river hydro-power plants) in the light of climate change-related decreases in water security and more frequent droughts
    • The relatively low energy return on investment associated with high-input, large fossil-fuel based infrastructure (e.g. the energy it takes to extract, transport coal and build a power plant, etc.), the greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental impact of the entire lifecycle of the project.

    mapThe benefits of DRES as opposed to big power projects need to be made more explicit in economic terms for decision-makers who are concerned with growing the aggregate national economy. Currently, the economic calculations do not take sufficiently into consideration the impacts listed about or the impacts of fossil fuel plants on public health, or the potential for DRES to be an engine for sustainable growth in rural areas.

    Whereas prioritising access to energy enables education and promotes entrepreneurship, the creation of local businesses and sustainable energy services, e.g. via refrigeration, irrigation, powering machinery and recharging batteries for electronics; large projects tend to benefit energy-intensive industries rather than aim at the alleviation of energy poverty. Given the appropriate incentives via transitioning towards a cost-reflective tariff for electricity and by including models of climate risk and ecosystem services in economic calculations, the private sector can be galvanised to innovate for the benefit of people in rural areas where there are large levels of energy poverty. After all, the rural poor do not merely have the willingness but also the ability to pay if provided with suitable financial instruments.

    However, access to finance is arguably the core barrier for the alleviation of energy poverty at the moment. Innovation accompanied by capacity building needs to occur in the financial sector, where there is a need for financial instruments that are accessible and affordable to the energy poor. Innovative initiatives are being rolled out by development organisations that de-risk rural, small-scale renewable energy investments in the developing world. Still, the challenge for the development sector remains to ensure that financial institutions give out loans for sustainable energy access as well as invest in local entrepreneurs offering energy services and building businesses on the back of the productive uses of energy.

    Finally, in terms of technological solutions, there is a large demand for affordable and effective solutions to energy storage. Likewise, the full potential of both solar PV and especially concentrated solar power remains to be unleashed. Whereas some solutions require high-input R&D, national and local innovation systems in the developing world should build on the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the youth to find accessible, affordable and sustainable solutions responding to local needs.

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  • Bidding adieu to 2016 : 10 best examples of practical solutions from India

    Ananta Prasad

    December 30th, 2016

    With a number of challenges on the field and off the field, the team in India has managed to deliver some good sustainable practical solutions in last couple of years. Moving ahead for an eventful 2017 and with added challenges and milestones, I thought of ending the year with looking back at the sustainable practical solutions we have served so far.

    Development is a process as we all know and in Practical Action the biggest learning so far I have got is how to make this process a sustainable one. Here I have documented 10 different projects and interventions which have been sustainable or aiming at sustainability delivering practical solutions.

    1. ACCESS cook stoves

    1 (2)

    Access Grameen Mahila Udyog, in Koraput which is nurtured by Practical Action has been instrumental in manufacturing and marketing of improved cook stoves. The cook stoves generate less smoke, save fuel and time.

    It has contributed to less carbon emission and has resulted in healthier living environment in rural tribal houses.

    2. SOURA RATH (Solar Power Cart)

    2 (1)

    Practical Action India developed a portable solar-powered cart (Mobile Solar Energy System) that provides energy for 72 hours to power mobile phones, laptops, lights and water pumps. The cart can serve up to a capacity of 5KW and can be used during the post-disaster emergency and is easy to be relocated from one place to another.

    This model is applauded by Government of Odisha and is now being showcased at the Solar Park for public. We strongly feel this can add value to the cyclone shelter houses if used appropriately

    3. SUNOLO SAKHI 

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    Young girls and women in 60 slums of Bhubaneswar have formed Sakhi Clubs and spreading the knowledge on menstrual hygiene among other girls and peers. Our innovative radio Programme ‘Sunolo Sakhi’ has broken the taboo and enabled a conducive environment for discussion on menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls. The first ever radio show on menstrual hygiene Sunolo Sakhi is instrumental in bringing about change in the menstrual hygiene practices and behaviour of these young girls resulting in better health.

    The comprehensive programme Sunolo Sakhi is also providing Audio book for visually challenged and video book for hearing and speech impaired girls in the State.

    4.  COMMUNITY GOVERNANCE 

    9 (3)

    Community led water management has helped this tribal village Sundertaila in Nayagarh district to be self-sufficient in getting clean drinking water. Not only practical solutions but introducing user friendly and sustainable technology options at the last mile and serving them with basic needs is something what Practical Action tries to invest in its program efforts.

    5. SMRE

    4 (2)

    18 years old Sunil Tadingi of Badamanjari is now a successful entrepreneur and continues education in Semiliguda College. Despite all odds he is able to mark this achievement as his village is now electrified with the help of a self-sustained micro hydro power generation unit.

    Badamanjari has set an example in Koraput district by generating around 40KW electricity to provide light to all the households of the village and people are able to watch TV and use fans as well. Rice hauler and turmeric processing units are also running with additional energy generated, as a result creating entrepreneurs like Sunil.

    6. Small wind energy systems (SWES)

    5 (5)

    60 poor families in Kalahandi district of Odisha once deprived of access to electricity are electrified now. The wind and solar hybrid system by Practical Action has solved the basic energy need of the villagers with street lights, home lighting and fans.

    Kamalaguda and Tijmali, these two villages are on the top of the hills where it was a day dream for getting electricity to fight with the night. Now, the villagers are capacitated to manage the systems by themselves without any external support.

    7. PROJECT NIRMAL

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    At the backdrop of poor sanitation facilities in small and medium cities of Odisha, ‘Project Nirmal’ supports two fast growing urban hubs like Dhenkanal and Angul municipalities with a pilot intervention for appropriate & sustainable city wide sanitation service.

    Project Nirmal aims at benefitting both the municipalities to set up Faecal Sludge Management systems by establishing treatment plants to treat the faecal sludge

    8. Safe and Healthy Environment for Children of Waste Workers

    8 (2)

    “I felt very happy the moment I received the Identity Card from the Dept. of Labour and Employment, Govt. of Odisha” Says Salima Bibi a 25 year old informal waste worker from a Slum near Dumduma under Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC).

    Many informal waste workers in the state are being formalised and now accessing and availing their legitimate citizen rights.

    9. LITRE OF LIGHT 

    3 (12)

    Light comes from water bottles. Litre of Light is an open source technology which has been successfully experimented in 120 households in the slums of Bhubaneswar. It has now lessened the use of electric light during day time.

    Small children can even study and men and women can do delicate cloth weaving and other productive activities during day time with the light provided by these solar water bulbs.

    10. Safe and Healthy Environment for Children of Waste Workers
    10 (3)

    117 children of informal waste workers have been enrolled in schools in one day and are continuing their schooling; they were engaged in rag picking or related works previously.

    While working with alternative energy, Practical Action focuses on advocating and influencing the society for a step ahead towards meaningful development

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  • Safer cooking across the world

    Amanda Ross

    December 20th, 2016

    Cooking is a daily necessity – for some a chore, for others a pleasure.  I’m happy to count myself in the latter category. Luckily for me, cooking is made easier by the availability of clean, reliable energy.  But this sadly is not the case for a third of the world population. Pashupati Kumal

    In many developing countries, and especially in rural areas, the only cooking fuels available and affordable are wood, crop waste or dung. And the most common cooking appliance is a three stone fire.  Not only is this energy inefficient, it’s also dangerous. Diseases caused by smoke from cooking fires kill 4 million people each year. That’s more than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids combined.

    Sadly, there’s no single silver bullet to solve this problem. All cultures have their own cooking practices, so local choice has to play a big role in any technology designed to reduce smoke in the kitchen.  Here are some stories of Practical Action’s locally designed solutions that have succeeded in cutting deadly household air pollution.

    As you cook your Christmas dinner this year, spare a thought for the three billion people worldwide who don’t have clean energy.

    You can help by donating to our appeal to stop the killer in the kitchen.

    LPG stoves in North Darfur, Sudan

    In North Darfur, 90% of households depend on firewood and charcoal for cooking. In this region LPG fuel is available and offers a clean, efficient substitute for wood or charcoal in household cooking.

    This innovative project is financed with carbon credits, through Carbon Clear. And a community managed revolving microfinance scheme enables poor families to obtain both the stove and the fuel. No only does the reduction in household air pollution improve the health of women and children but it also reduces the pressure on dwindling forest resources in the region

    Asha LPG stovesAsha Mohamed Abdelkareem Sabeel, a mother of six, now has an LPG stove. She used to spend 20 SDG ($2) a day to buy wood for cooking. But with the new fuel she has put away her daily savings of 10 SDG per day ($1) in a box and has saved an unbelievable 2,800 SDG ($280).  The family have used this to build a new building and kitchen for their house.

    Asha used to have to visit the doctor every other month but this has stopped completely. She is now saving to support her daughter at university. In addition there is a huge time saving. Instead of spending four hours a day cooking, it can all be done in an hour.

    Just imagine what you could achieve with an extra three hours a day!

    ACCESS stoves in Odisha, India

    ACCESS OdishaThis Johnson Matthey funded project in Odisha has trained local women entrepreneurs to produce and market a locally designed low smoke stove.

    It is providing employment and stimulating the local economy as well as improving health by reducing harmful smoke.

    26 year old K Madhabi led a women’s group and is now a successful entrepreneur.  The energy efficient cook stove they produce reduced smoke to almost zero and cooking time up to 50%.  It also consumes less firewood than traditional stoves. She is delighted with their success.

    “Life is not the same as before. We have been treated with much respect in our community,” says Madhabi.

    The group has been getting regular orders and are working hard to meet the demand.

    Smoke hoods in Nepal

    In rural areas across Nepal, traditional stoves are common. But smoke from these fires fill the lungs of the whole family, causing them to cough and their eyes to stream.

    Saraswoti MoktanHere the winter cold means that stoves are needed for heating as well as cooking. Practical Action has worked with local families to develop a smoke hood design that can be manufactured locally and installed along with an improved stove. The project is enabling 36,000 households in the Gorkha, Dhading, Makwanpur, Rasuwa and Nuwakot districts of Nepal to install this technology.

    Saraswoti explains how this has changed her life.

    “Before, we had a traditional stove. And the stove was really smoky; my eyes were watery and I couldn’t see properly. It used to hurt a lot. When the children were small, they suffered from pneumonia.”

    Their new stove and smoke hood not only protect Saraswoti’s family from deadly smoke but also uses less wood, saving time and effort, and the house is no longer black with soot.

    Stoves for coffee growers in Peru

    Working in partnership with coffee co-operative CENFROCAFE, we’ve developed an improved stove for 700 coffee and rice farmers in the provinces of Jaen and San Ignacio in Peru.

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  • Empowering women economically

    Howida Ahmed

    November 27th, 2016

    As one of the activities of the low smoke stove project we established twenty saving and loan committees in El Fasher town to spread the concept of saving among women’s groups. The hope is to empower women and also to contribute to improving women’s lives.

    Economic empowermentMost of our beneficiaries are poor women, the majority did not complete their education and have little or no income. Most of women are small traders in vegetables or handcrafts.  However for those making local perfume, and food processing, their capital is too small to expand their trade to increase their profit.

    We introduced the idea of savings and loans to help women to overcome these economic barriers.  These committees are not new but we are trying to introduce a model of savings and loans that help the women to be more organized, to have a good understanding of the concept and the ability to take on and manage the loan.

    Many women now are very happy following their involvement in savings and loan committees, Some started income generating activities that help to pay school fees for their children.  In addition they are making social relationships among women’s groups which will help them exchange ideas and share knowledge.

    Furthermore women groups have been able to provide equipment based on women’s needs. They pay in advance to acquire LPG stoves and thereafter in monthly installments.  In some cases some women cannot afford to pay the advance, so the saving committee lend them money to pay this.

    We found among the saving and loan committees’ women headed the household and took all home responsibilities.  This group of women needs support to build their capacity in managing a revolving fund and to build managerial skills. This will help encourage the women to start investing and to take a loan from the committees and as well as giving them access to financial institutions.  As the saving model has been successful, other women have been persuaded to copy the idea.

     

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  • Success for savings and loan associations in North Darfur

    Izdehar Ahmed Mohamed

    November 20th, 2016

    People living in poverty in the conflict-stricken area of North Darfur face a severe shortage of money for household needs. They either endure the hardships or try to find someone to borrow money from. When it comes to women smallholders, they lack money for inputs and other cash needs in their household’s.

    To address this problem, saving is a way forward. Those who can save then have funds for unexpected needs in the household and for timely investment in groups.

    Fatima stoves SudanPractical Action Sudan, in partnership with the Women’s Development Association (WDAN) initiated training of horticulture smallholders using the Savings and Loan Association (SLA) approach.

    SLA members save through the purchase of shares with a maximum purchase of five shares allowed per saving meeting. This allows for flexible saving depending on the surplus money members have. They meet weekly or monthly and continue saving for a period of nine to twelve months.

    The project officer for the Community Initiative Sustained Development project within Practical Action Sudan, explained:

    “The aim of SLA is to enable resource-poor households to access financial services in order to finance income generating activities that would increase their income and lift them permanently above the poverty line. It enables money to be available at the right time for purchase of inputs and other energy costs.”

    SLA groups are providing smallholder women with the opportunity to save and borrow flexibly without having to go to the bank. With this savings methodology there are no problems of high minimum deposit requirements, hidden charges, complicated procedures, or difficulty in accessing loans.

    The funds assist in building resilient communities and provide social safety nets, as they are used for inputs purchase, diversifying into other income generating activities, immediate household needs and provide room for assistance to members in case of death, disease or natural disasters. Such diverse services are not provided by local moneylenders, as they are not willing to provide for the poorest.

    The process is very transparent as it involves each and every member within the sharing and lending processes. The fund is shared out at the end of each cycle which is normally nine months to a year.

    This SLA methodology has proved to be a success.  This year 20 SLA groups have been established in Elfashir in North Darfur. Shares accrued range from a minimum of 500SDG (£62) to 700SDG from monthly savings. In addition, the groups also pay towards a social fund, which can be used, when a member is having acute problems, such as unexpected medical expenses.

    Villages using this method have been successful in helping women to learn about saving, to enhance social links within their communities and to make their first investments.

    The project team conducted monthly field visits to monitor the progress of loans saving committees. Committee members contributed an average amount of 25-30 SDG (£8) each month. 345 women have benefited and saved a total amount of 74,101 SDG. At the end of a cycle the money is distributed back to the group members. It is very important that every member’s money is placed in their hand.

    In total  879 households have accessed LPG through this savings program in Elfashir in different districts and 76 women have access to loans to establish income generation activities.

    Women were thankful to Practical Action and the Women Development Association Network for empowering them and enabling them to finance themselves and their family in the face of extreme economic hardship.

    Now I can confidently grow for the market because I have access to finance for inputs from my savings group. I was about to give up due to lack of money.”

    Access to clean sources of energy, livelihood and finance has led to the building of self-respect and self-reliance in the community.

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  • Three obstinate questions of energy access

    Vishwa Amatya

    October 9th, 2016

    This blog is based on a note prepared for a Panel at a South Asian Regional Workshop held in Kathmandu funded by DfID and executed jointly by the University of Berkeley and Oxford Policy Management.

    1. What is the most pervasive form of energy poverty?

    IMG_2528Understanding energy poverty or lack of energy access, as I see, needs understanding of energy access in three spheres of energy needs for human society to prosper in a sustained way.

    These three spheres are:

    i) Energy for household uses (includes energy for cooking, lighting and other uses)

    ii) Energy for productive activity of a household to make living in an efficient and humanly manner

    iii) Energy for making community services and activities more effective. Practical Action has been advocating this framework through its annual publication by name, ‘Poor People’s Energy Outlook’

    If we further analyse these energy requirements, they can be lumped together based on application into energy for thermal applications including cooking, electrical energy for light and appliance use, and sporadically mechanical energy, especially in rural areas for various activities (mainly productive use applications, water mills for agro-processing are an example).

    In terms of quantity (energy units) most demand arises for thermal applications of which cooking is the major activity in developing countries, partly contributed also by lower conversion and utilisation efficiency. It is met mainly through the use of solid biomass fuel (mostly non-commercial wood-fuel, occasionally agricultural residues and dried animal dung) in the developing world and some form of commercialised fossil-fuel (kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas – LPG).

    The use of electricity in cooking is very limited. The portion of wood-fuel in the total supply (wood-fire, electricity and fossil-fuel) is progressively more for households located in rural areas, which consequently have more access to forests for firewood. When firewood (or wood-fuel)is collected rather than purchased and a lack of rural employment co-exist side-by-side, there is very little incentive to improve efficiency. Consequently, the technology used for this purpose (solid biomass stoves) is rudimentary, inconvenient and unsafe. Thus, the energy poverty is very much represented by unsafe and unclean way of cooking. The urban poor also face similar problems where they resort to various ways of cooking that are unsafe and unclean.

    The most pervasive form of energy poverty is the lack of access to clean and safe methods of cooking.

    2. Are South Asian households likely to gain access to energy for cooking through electric stoves?

    Compared to other alternatives, electricity is costly, not accessible everywhere and reliability is an issue. The evidences show that the equation is more of LPG/kerosene versus wood-fuel in many situations. The trend of penetration of LPG stoves to substitute wood-fuel and kerosene is seen to be very strong and verifiable with import figures of LPG. The intensity of electricity use for cooking is very low and limited within affluent households. Although newer and more efficient electric technologies like induction cooking stoves are making a strong market entry, it will still take a long time to replace fossil-fuel based cooking solutions. The question of substituting wood-fuel with commercial fuel is more one of availability of time to collect (notion of free/near free wood-fuel) as against affordability of poor rural households.

    It is, therefore, very unlikely that electricity will replace current methods and trends of cooking solution with current supply characteristics and growth trend in South Asia. There may be some exceptions where electricity supply characteristic is an anomaly where electricity is highly subsidised.

    3. What additional interventions will be required to promote alternative cooking technologies?

    A better way with improved stove and smoke-hood. we call it hood-stove

    A better way with improved stove and smoke-hood. we call it hood-stove

    Promoting alternative cooking technologies (alternative to wood-fuel with inefficient device) will have to be dealt in progressive stages. After all wood-fuel use for cooking is not at all a bad thing if it is sustainably harvested and used with a highly efficient device.

    This can start from replacing the current dominant traditional stove (with less than 10% efficiency) with more and more convenient, safe and efficient stoves. Sustainable Energy for All’s multi-tier framework provides five stages of development of cooking energy access with various forms of energy and devices. According to which, energy like electricity and other commercial forms of energy (biogas, LPG, electricity, natural gas, BLEN) and manufactured stoves appear at tbe higher tier and use of biomass in a homemade inefficient stove appears at the lowest end.

    To climb the tier, interventions will be inevitable to make it rapid. If we are looking for a long term solution, interventions have to come from outside and cannot be politically popular, limited, free distribution of stoves, that is for sure.

    The proper market development of stoves where people find their roles as market actors is important for large-scale change to happen. With a proper market system development, an efficient supply chain and after sales service can be established that are profitable and sustainable.

    The necessary interventions to make it happen could be:

    • There may be projects with a limited role of subsidy to kick-start the market but must have a clear exit strategy 
    • Support for market system development with capacity development for market actors
    • Ensure that lack of finance does not hinder the market growth
    • Another important intervention should be geared towards increasing affordability and reducing the availability of free time to make seem wood-fuel a free resource.
    • With proper market development of stoves people will find their roles as market actors.  This is important for large-scale change to happen.
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  • Making up time on Loss and Damage

    Colin McQuistan

    September 23rd, 2016

    This week the world passed a benchmark when the 56th country submitted documents of ratification for the global climate change agreement that was signed in Paris in December 2015[1]. This was a significant step and raises the likelihood that the Paris agreement will be ratified in advance of the next global climate gathering in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2016.

    Paris agreement status

    One of the significant achievements (aside from it actually being passed!) was the inclusion of Article 8 on Loss and Damage. Loss and Damage recognises that for many, action on climate change is already too late. That for the poorest and most vulnerable climate change has exceeded the point at which adaptation might help, they are already facing the irreversible consequences of climate change. Climate conditions have already made traditional cropping practices redundant, the rate of sea water acidification has reduced fisheries upon which their livelihoods depend and for many living in coastal areas and especially small island states, sea level rise is already making their homes uninhabitable.

    For these people our fixation with fossil fuels meant the loss of their homes and livelihoods, our efforts to decarbonise the global energy systems took too long. So the Loss and Damage article in the Paris agreement goes a little way to start to decide what to do for those people where climate action has been too little, too late. Unfortunately, negotiations to take forward action on Loss and Damage are progressing too slowly, as I found out in Bonn this week.

    WIM Ex Com Meeting Bonn September 2016

    WIM Ex Com Meeting Bonn September 2016

    The fourth meeting of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) met in Bonn, Germany to discuss progress on their two year work plan. It’s clear that a political dance is underway in which everyone recognises the challenge but nobody is willing to step forward with the bold political agenda necessary to deliver climate justice. The developed countries are fearful of any notion of compensation, afraid of mega-lawsuits for Loss and Damages already incurred. Developing countries are trying to build on progress but cannot find the necessary levers to unlock the political impasse.

    One of the first challenges is getting Loss and Damage recognised as a priority issue. Global temperatures have already risen 0.85oC from 1880 to 2012[2]. So immediate action to limit warming further is a priority. There are no scientific nor technological barriers to keep global warming within a 1.5oC envelope and therefore minimise Loss and Damage due to climate change. The only obstacles are social and political, an unwillingness to recognise reality and an unwillingness to accept responsibility.

    Consequences

    The hurdle we have to overcome is not a difficult one. Best estimates for current climate change based on national commitments has warming in excess of 2.7oC[3]. Switching to a 1.5oC trajectory will deliver numerous social and economic benefits in addition to reducing the potential impacts of Loss and Damage, although this should be sufficient in itself to drive action now. Renewable energy technologies already exists and are not being exploited to their full potential. A switch to renewables would have stabilising effects on national economies as fuel prices spikes would be eradicated, with demand for fossil fuels falling and more energy being supplied for free. A switch to renewables would boost energy security. Already many counties especially small island states with the most too loose are well on the way to 100% renewable power generation. For example Costa Rica made headlines earlier in the year when it emerged that the country had been running on only renewable energy for 100 days of 2015[4]. A switch to non-polluting energy production would improve air quality considerably with reduced health burdens on national budgets, a win-win with reduced expenditure on health with increased productivity as health levels improve.

    I’ll explore the impacts of Climate Change and the consequences of Loss and Damage in our work next week.

    [1] http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php

    [2] http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf

    [3] http://climateactiontracker.org/assets/publications/briefing_papers/CAT_Temp_Update_COP21.pdf

    [4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/costa-rica-renewable-energy-100-days-power-climate-change-a7217441.html

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  • 10 reasons why Practical Action is the best organisation I have worked in so far

    Ananta Prasad

    July 13th, 2016

    Since, I started my professional work life on 1 April 2010, I have served 8 different organisations in just 6 years and freelanced for numbers of other organisations voluntarily and also as consultants before. I clearly remember 13 July 2015, the day I had joined Practical Action, it was just like any other organisation I had served before. However, I had started my journey with a small road accident on the way to my office, which keeps the date full of memories for me.

    A new organisation with a complete new team of people, I had not thought of being very comfortable but the people here made work life so easy, my conscience forced me to pen down this article. This is my return to each and every employee of Practical Action family for making it happen.

    In India, people are skeptical about those who work with NGOs. I have faced so many situations where I feel people do not welcome the fact that I work in an NGO. When it comes to marriage proposals or parents, let me be very honest, the development sector is not something most people/parents look at. Such ironies apart, I made up my mind to mention 10 reasons why I love Practical Action more than my previous employers, however I have served in media houses, corporates and NGOs earlier. As I am celebrating my one year completion in the organisation, this is my return gift to the people around.

    1. Small is Beautiful : A theory worth working for

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    The organisation believes in the famous theory of the founder EF Schumacher i.e ‘Small is Beautiful’. Even in work, I experienced this is so beneficial to start with small and then expand. Most of our projects are actually small and having the best impact but with a bigger future prospective. This organisation inherits this principle within you.

    1. Witnessing Technology Justice

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    21st Century while experiencing the all technological advancements this organisation continues to prove how Technology is being used for poor communities and challenging social disparities. A small villager in Badamanjari village of Koraput is experiencing electricity where the grid is still a dream. The smile in their face will make your day. #TechnologyJustice

    1. Experiencing innovations

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    Innovations are the key to Practical Action’s work. Though we are new in our operations in India, some innovations are unique indeed. The Small Wind and Energy System in Kalahandi providing electricity from both Solar and Wind through a hybrid system is definitely an innovation. The other country offices have so many innovations and I experience them through in-house communication. These innovations inspire me to think out of the box.

    1. A liberal organisation

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    The organisation is liberal in terms of work culture. You get lots of encouragement during work and also fun elements are added. The organisation gives scope to reflect on your mistakes and also your successes. It gives much scope for self-assessment. The regular Monday meetings keep me updated about all others work and I self-asses my week’s achievements and short comings if any.

    1. No hierarchy

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    I was surprised and glad when I had got a personalised mail from our the then CEO Simon welcoming me the day I joined. Though I work under my line manager, matrix manager and senior manager I still never felt a strict hierarchy imposing on me. All my managers are so supportive and have given me the scope to grow and work with a free hand. (PS : Not trying to impress my managers, my appraisal is already done)

    1. Too much to learn

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    This is something I love the most about the organisation. In our India Office, though a small team, we have experts from different areas. Working with my WASH team, Energy officer, Monitoring, the Admin I get to learn a lot of things. Even, I get to learn from the finance team about managing the finance in project management. If I talk about communication, my mates in Nepal, UK and other country offices are so well equipped with knowledge, I have learned a lot during the whole year. I thank them all for making my stay here with full of learning.

    1. Travelling is an integral part of my work

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    Oh yes! If you personally know me, then I am sure, you would have guessed how happy I am when I travel. And the organisation gives me scope to travel. Though these are official trips but, I get to learn from projects, people, and places. In a span of one year, I have had 11 trips to different project locations and out of which 4 are out of the state and one is out of country perhaps my first foreign trip to Bangladesh.  All such work travels basically give me exposure to new work and let me document things both visually and in print.

    1. I get umpteen opportunities to click humans and write stories

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    Well, I am a born story teller, which I believe and try to create more stories. This happens when i meet people, I click them and write stories. Stories of change and stories of technology justice, this has made me a frequent blogger. I hope to create more such stories in both visuals and words for you all.

    1. It allows and approves my creativity

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    This is one organisation, which has allowed and actually approved my creative thinking. Some projects have actually taken shape with my creativity and value addition from my managers and other team mates. Even in other events, I had given free-hand to think rethink and create some magic.

    1. I love my team

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    I love my team, each of them. They get me some delicious food every day at the lunch table. I am like the finisher if something is left from the lunch boxes. The foodie in me loves them for making myself little fat. Jokes apart, being the youngest member of the team, I have been pampered, being scolded when I deserved that, being guided which happens quite often and being taught with lessons which have made me a better professional and a far better person.

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