Thursday, 29 April 2010

Indian government prepares action plan for improved cookstoves

The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has revealed that the government intends to make improved cookstoves more widely available. The National Biomass Cook-stove Initiative includes efforts to improve the technical capacity of the country to research the technology whilst improving the supply of efficient stoves for businesses and households. Take a look at this recent news article from the Shell Foundation for more information.

Technology Informatics Design Endeavour  - 2008 Ashden Award winner

This initiative is certainly a step in the right direction. Our recently published report on efficient cookstoves, Stoking up a cookstove revolution: The secret weapon against poverty and climate change, features the experiences of several of our Indian winners working to increase the use of efficient stoves, creating positive environmental, economic and health impacts. It also highlights a need for government policy to encourage the widespread use of efficient stoves. You can download a copy of it here.

For more information on efficient cookstoves and to find out about all of our award-winners please see our website.

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Monday, 26 April 2010

Fruits of the Nile expands into drying berry fruits

Fruits of the Nile (FON) are expanding into drying berry fruits thanks to a grant of £148,000 awarded for this purpose through DFID's FRICH (Food Retail Industry Challenge) initiative. Each year, Fruits of the Nile produces and exports around 120 tonnes of high-quality dried banana and pineapple from its factory in Njeru. They are keen to diversify the range of products their farmers can produce to reduce risk in the marketplace so branching out into a new high-value product such as berry fruits is a positive step.

Fruits of the Nile - 2008 Ashden Award winner

In 2009, the Ashden Awards, as part of its business support programme, funded a feasibility study exploring the options for diversifying FON’s products. The study’s findings identified specific fruit cultivars, production techniques and yields that FON will now produce in partnership with Garden Organic. In this new venture, the technology of choice for drying is solar, a technique which needs very little energy (or financial) inputs yet adds significant value to the product.

Fruits of the Nile - 2008 Ashden Award winner

Already the production of strawberries, blueberries, cape gooseberries and raspberries is underway. Farmers have just planted about 10,000 seedlings. Longer term, the ambition is to target organic cultivation methods with the berries. However, the profusion of bugs and pests in Uganda at the moment is making this a challenge!

Since winning an Ashden Award in 2008, Fruits of the Nile, with help from the award prize-money, has continued to develop. They have installed rainwater harvesting, certified new farmers and set up eleven new working groups with individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. A solar PV supply has even been installed to run computers and lights in the packing factory, enabling work to continue during power cuts.

Fruits of the Nile - 2008 Ashden Award winner

Not only are Fruits of the Nile showing determination in the face of a global recession, but they are reinforcing their commitment to sustainable energy use. Having a non-perishable product means they can freight their cargo using ships rather than planes. And, in the face of a continent halted by volcanic ash, this has proved to be a great option, saving the company from major disruptions in its recent deliveries!

For more information and news about all of our award-winners, please visit our website.

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Monday, 19 April 2010

Trees Water People are steaming ahead bringing improved cookstoves to families in Haiti and Honduras

Nearly half the world’s households, around three billion people worldwide, eat food cooked on traditional stoves and fires that kill around 1.6 million people a year -- most of them are children. Trees, Water & People (TWP) have been working hard in recent months to bring improved stoves to thousands affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti and to communities in Honduras.

TWP and Honduran NGO, ADHESA won an Ashden Award in 2005 for their work installing efficient stoves in Honduras. In the last 5 years, TWP and its local partners have continued to bring benefits to communities and ecosystems in Central America through their work installing efficient cookstoves and planting trees. To date, TWP has produced and distributed 35,000 improved Justa and Ecostoves to families in need and planted 3.5 million trees with local farmers in Central America.
In 2005, with the help of Ashden award prize money and USEPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency), TWP built its first factory in Honduras. Since then, with funding from private foundations and individual donors, they have remodelled an old shoe factory into one for stoves. And production from the stove factory is steaming ahead! In the last 6 months, local partner NGO, AHDESA has produced and sold 5,000 stoves, with almost 2,700 sold in first quarter of this year. These have been for agencies and organisations such as the European Union, CARE and Rotary clubs.

The project has been careful to ensure social sustainability. ADHESA has been training local community leaders in Honduras to help deliver production and distribution in communities. In the last 3 months, 156 community leaders have been trained and about a third of these people now have the technical skills needed to construct and install Ecostoves.
In Haiti, since the earthquake, Trees, Water & People has been part of the effort to provide relief and continued development for the local people. It has already sent 430 stoves as part of an emergency aid effort and raised $28,000 for medical and emergency relief in Haiti. In the next seven years, Trees, Water & People hopes to help get 100,000 cookstoves into the country, where millions of people still depend on unhealthy open fires to cook food for their families.
Improved stoves have multiple positive benefits, they can drastically reduce the toxic effects of cookstoves on health, develop lives and mitigate climate change. For instance, each stove installed in Honduras saves families around one dollar per day and stops around 4 tonnes of C02 being emitted each year.

More information about the impacts and potential for cookstoves can be read in our recent report “Stoking up a cookstove revolution: the secret weapon against poverty and climate change” which draws on the work and experiences of our winners.

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Thursday, 15 April 2010

A model for regional support? Enworks is improving business efficiency in the Northwest

Simon, our UK Programme Manager, recently attended a one-day conference in Manchester hosted by ENWORKS. ENWORKS, who won an award in 2007, is a leading environmental business support service based in the Northwest. It supports small and medium businesses (SMEs) to become more resource efficient, reducing their carbon impact and increasing their productivity.

The event ,"Obvious in Hindsight: A strategic insight into successful environmental business support", was designed to share a decade's worth of experience in delivering environmental business support and provide the opportunity for delegates to contribute to the debate on key issues. The Chair of our UK judging panel, Prof. Paul Ekins, and Todd Holden, ENWORKS' Director, were amongst those giving presentations throughout the day. These covered topics such as the challenge and potential of resource efficiency, the value of regions and linkages and the implications of ENWORKS' experience for government policy.

This event was also a great opportunity to showcase “ENWORKS in a Box”, an online tool developed with the help of the Ashden Award prize money to serve as a practical resource for businesses and support services. It is designed to share knowledge, the lessons learnt and to provide guidance for other organisations or partnerships that are looking to deliver environmental business support.

Organisations like these mark out the potential for regional business support services to help deliver large reductions in energy consumption with relatively little cost. ENWORKS has developed an incredibly successful model of business support, stimulating dramatic savings in carbon and reduced costs through efficiency measures, saving Northwest businesses millions of pounds each year. It supports around 1,000 businesses every year, helping them to achieve £100m in savings annually and regional reductions in CO2 emissions of 303,300 tonnes each year. The model they have developed has the potential to be adapted and replicated in other regions, bringing massive benefits to SMEs across the UK.
ENWORKS - 2007 Ashden Award winner

Find out more about our winners on our website.

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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Zara Solar wins Lighting Rural Tanzania competition

Zara Solar Ltd won an Ashden award in 2007 for its work enabling people in rural Tanzania to access quality yet affordable solar PV systems. Last week they won a grant of up to $100,000.00 through the Lighting Rural Tanzania Competition for a project delivering solar lighting to school children.

More than 85% of Tanzania’s population lack access to the national grid. This means millions of school children depend primarily on polluting kerosene lamp for studying at night, leading to respiratory diseases and creating other hazards.

The Lighting Rural Tanzania Competition is a World Bank supported competitive grant program to support private enterprises in developing and delivering a wide array of modern lighting products for rural households and businesses. These small-scale projects must not only deliver results, but also have the potential to be expanded or replicated.

The winning project, to be implemented within 12 months, will use solar and LED technology to provide solar lighting to millions of school children. It will tackle many barriers to accessing solar energy by making reliable, affordable lights available to children for home study and by installing charging systems in schools.
By using a more innovative delivery model, Zara Solar expects to encourage a greater use of solar lighting within households, raise awareness in local communities and trigger greater demand for solar in rural areas.

Find out more about past award-winners on our website.

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