Renewable World is an organisation on a mission to bring sustainable clean energy solutions to people living in poverty around the world. Keep reading to find out how Onaway’s support has helped to improve the quality of life and livelihoods of vulnerable communities in Nepal.
Since 2008, Renewable World has been striving to mitigate climate change and end extreme poverty around the world through the introduction of clean energy solutions which are accessible to all. Their aim is to increase access to clean, affordable and sustainable energy in order to empower people living in poverty in countries such as Kenya and Nepal to build resilient livelihoods and lessen the impacts of climate change, natural disasters and disease. By working tirelessly to implement solutions such as lighting from micro solar-grids, solar-powered water pumps and clean cooking using biogas, the organisation has already helped to change the lives of over 100,000 people.
Around the world, a staggering 1.1 billion people still lack access to electricity. In Kenya, this means that the many people whose income relies on the fish trade are unable to refrigerate their catch and are forced to sell at unfair prices. With one in three Kenyans living below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day, there is evidently an urgent need for sustainable solutions.
In Nepal, the situation is no less concerning. Around 35% of the Nepalese population is living with poor health, living standards and education, and almost a third lives below the poverty line. Rural communities have no choice but to use polluting cooking methods which endanger their health simply in order to survive. According to the WHO, around the world 3.9 million people die prematurely due to air pollution from burning toxic biomass fuels every year.
Women and girls especially face a poor quality of life, as they are forced to trek long distances, for up to 4 or 5 hours every day, in order to fetch water. However, even this is not enough to stop their crops from failing due to climate change, endangering both food security and income. In addition to this, Nepalis must contend with the devastating effects of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and severe flooding, which often strike the region.
SOLAR-POWERED WATER PUMPS
In Nepal, the lack of taps and water pumps in villages means that the land cannot be farmed and parents feel they have no choice but to send children as young as 11 to work in India in order to bring in enough money for food. Onaway has been proud to support Renewable World throughout the years as they have set out to solve this problem through the installation of solar-powered water pumps. In addition to these systems, which allow water to be piped directly to remote villages, the organisation also offers training in water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) activities and climate-smart agriculture.
With funding from Onaway and other generous donors, Renewable World was able to bring clean water to over 10,246 people across multiple phases of the SolarMUS (Solar Water for Multi-use Systems) programme. This has greatly reduced the burden on women and girls, who now spend 80% less of their valuable time collecting water.
Easy access to fresh water has also had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of beneficiaries, with a 68% decrease in illnesses such as cholera and dysentery. Furthermore, communities are now able to grow their own food and sell any surplus, leading to a 70% increase in annual income in the second phase of the programme alone. This in turn increases food security and economic stability, helping to strengthen communities and keep families together.
FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM
Onaway provided further funding in 2019 for the Solar Energy for Community Resilience (SECuRE) Nepal project, the aim of which was to ‘increase community resilience to climatic shocks and economic stresses’ through the use of solar-powered electricity.
The first aspect of the project was carried out in Bherichaal Chepang, a village prone to flooding due to its location only a few metres above water level at the confluence of two rivers. It involved the installation of a solar-powered flood warning system designed to prevent this off-grid community of 1,650 people from suffering further devastating losses to their livestock, land, homes and even their own lives.
In the second aspect of the programme, Renewable World installed free-standing solar-power systems at Health Posts in five remote communities in Surkhet District, mid-western Nepal. Despite delays due to Covid-19 and local government issues, the solar-power systems now provide access to essential lighting, fans, nebulisers and refrigerated medicines for over 1,200 households who previously had to travel for hours to receive this standard of care. In addition, the staff have been trained in the operation, maintenance and repair of the equipment, ensuring the project’s long-term success and self-sufficiency.
In addition to these programmes, Renewable World carries out a range of other community-led projects designed to improve local access to clean energy without depleting the resources of neighbouring communities. The organisation understands the importance of directly consulting with communities about their needs and working with local stakeholders to implement and manage the new systems. In this way, Renewable World hopes to bring about social change thanks to improvements to health, an increase in crop yields, and freeing up time for beneficiaries to pursue opportunities in education and enterprise.
Renewable World’s programmes have already impacted the lives of over 100,000 people in 151 communities in Africa, Asia and Central America. Over 1.3 billion litres of water have now been pumped using clean energy, with a single hydraulic ram pump (Hydram) able to lift 20,000 litres of water a day, the equivalent of 250 bathtubs full, up to 200m.
In Nepal, this has brought clean water to 20,000 people and 37 schools, and communities are now able to grow crops on land which was once barren. Remote hillside villages have seen a 70% increase in annual household incomes thanks to these agricultural opportunities, as well as being able to dedicate to work the time which was previously spent collecting water.
In addition, Renewable World’s biogas facilities offer a cleaner, safer and more environmentally-friendly method of cooking than those previously used. In Kenya, households connected to solar microgrids now spend 50% less on monthly energy bills compared to equivalent expenses from kerosene and petrol. This reliable access to electricity has boosted families’ annual incomes by 20%.
Overall, Renewable World has delivered clean energy technology capable of pumping 336 million litres of water, generating 1.54 GWh of energy, and mitigating 7,524 tonnes of CO2 per year. However, the full scale of the impact that their actions are having on the lives of beneficiaries is impossible to quantify.
“Now we have access to water in our house it has made our lives easier, especially to keep our houses clean, and it is easier to send children to school on time. Before the project, to bring just 50 litres of water we were compelled to walk for one and a half hours.”- Maya Reshmi
The Onaway Trust is proud to have played a small part in making these programmes and their impacts possible. To find out more about the work of Renewable World, including how you can donate, please follow the link below.