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Friday, February 26, 2010

NGOs received UNEP’S awards for bringing sustainable heat and light to the world

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 23 February 2010 announced its Sasakawa prize to two international NGOs: Tree, Water and People; and Nuru Designs for their outstanding contribution for developing energy efficient stove and Nuru lights respectively.
The two projects by these two different international organisations, the Sasakawa prize winners of UNEP for the year 2009-10 bring heat and light to communities in Latin America, Africa and India.

This year’s UNEP prize winners Tree, Water and People and Nuru designs have been reportedly changing lives of the common communities sustainably. For this Achim Steiner, the UNEP’S executive director has said, “This is the Green Economy of tomorrow in action today.” Here is a brief introduction about the two path finder non-government organisations.

Trees, Water and People

It is a non-profit organisation which collaborates with local non- government organisations in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti to distribute fuel efficient cook stoves that burn up to 70 per cent less wood and removes toxic gases from home generated otherwise by ordinary wood stoves.
The organisation carries out a number of other environ-friendly projects like managing community nurseries, reforestation, watershed management and promotion of renewable energy. So far the Tree, Water and People have coordinated the building of 35,000 stoves through out Central America and Haiti. More than 175,000 people have been benefitted from the project. The ecostoves that have been developed and distributed by the organisation has contributed to decrease 3.5 tonnes of Carbon dioxide equivalent per year for commercial users. The organisation has made villagers to create 16 community run nurseries that sequester carbon and counter the effects of deforestation. Three million trees have been planted through out America.

It is also reported that the organisation would use the prize money to support and expand the fuel efficient stove projects and community tree nurseries through out Central America, and Caribbean while purchasing equipment and materials necessary for increased production of the energy efficient stoves, as well as vehicles for transportation and delivery.

Stuart Conway: Co-founder of TWP

Rechard Fox : Co= founder of TWP

A tree, Water and People is a Colorado based organisation which works in Central America, Haiti, and America west. It has been the winner of 2008 US $1 million Rio Tinto prize for Sustainability. The organisation was founded in 1998 by Stuart Conway and Richard Fox. It has a staff of dedicated conservationists. This staff feels strongly about helping communities to protect, conserve and manage the natural resources to carry on long term wellbeing.

The organisation Trees, Water and People is guided by two fundamental principles-

1.The natural resources are protected best when local people play an active role in their care and management.

2.Preserving local trees, wetlands and watersheds is essential for ongoing social, economic, and environmental health of communities everywhere.

Some of the major functions of Trees, Water and People are –

1.Continuing reforestation and protection of watersheds

2.Generation and conservation of renewable energy

3.Application and development of appropriate technology

4.Environmental Education Programmes in Latin America and American West.

The national and International programmes of TWP programmes are recognized internationally. It has received the Ashden Award for renewable energy as well as award from Kodak, Conservation Fund, eTown, and the Nationally Syndicated Environmental Radio programmes. The programmes of the organisation are also featured on National Geographic Television, National Public Radio and also in the Christian Science Monitor.

The problem that inspired the organisation

It is reported that more than 80 percent of families cooked meals over open wood fires. They didn’t have access to alternative sources of fuels. They could not even afford to buy electric or gas stoves. Smoke generated through burning fire indoors cause acute respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, eye diseases and even tuberculosis. The inefficient open wood fires required a great deal of fuel that contributes to deforestation.

The open fire cooking wood stoves require a great deal of wood releasing carbon dioxide and other green house gases into the atmosphere.Women who cook over open fie run the risk of being affected adversely with the same. It was to combat with these problems the organisation developed many types of fuel efficient stoves that consume up to 70 per cent less wood than the traditional wood stoves. The technology behind the stove is simple due to which it can be made locally with local materials to adopt with the local cooking systems. The organisation trains local people about how to build, use and maintain the stoves at domestic levels.

Nuru Designs

This organisation has been organised in view of replacing the application of expensive, polluting, unhealthy and dangerous kerosene as a source of lighting system for the two billion people without access to electricity. Out of these people about 580 million live in India.

The Nuru Lights

The Charging System of Nuru Lights

The organisation Nuru Design has prepared a portable light that can be recharged by pedaling for 20 minutes and has been developed for use in areas that have not been electrified. This has been the device for which the Nuru Design has won the UNEP’S prestigious Sasakawa prize.

The word Nuru means light in Swahili. The organisation is headed by a social entrepreneur Sameer Hajee who is in fact a Canadian national who has his family roots in India and Kenya. According to Janab Hajee, a pilot project was already in place in Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. Hajee expected that these units might be rolled out by coming summer with 300,000 units by the end of the year.

Nuru light is the lighting system that can be recharged by a pedal generator – the Nuru power cycle. The field testing of the system was done in the African nation of Rwanda. The organisation has decided to use the award money to “replicate the success of lighting system in India by the end of this year and also in the African countries of Burundi, Kenya and Uganda.

Key Words: UNEP,Achim Steiner, TWP, Nuru Designs,Green Economy,Sameer Hajee,

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