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High tech means high impact, month 5

Posted on Posted in Blog, Year Of Charity

2016 is my year of charity. I’ll donate part of my income for good causes, every month another one. Then I blog about the impact. Here is what I support in May.

  • This quarter I focus on South America.
  • Bringing electricity to rural Peru.
The supply of electricity is very important, both for the basic use at home and the energy needed for activities to generate a livelihood. This is something we in the industrial nations take for granted and rely on every day. But the lack of access to electricity makes it harder to overcome extreme poverty, especially in rural areas. Reaching remote populations can present serious difficulties due to complex geography. Extending the grid is challenging and very costly.
According to the Human Development Report, UNDP, almost 10 million inhabitants of the Andean countries have no access to basic electricity: Peru has electrification ratio below 40%, while Bolivia has a ratio of almost 30% in rural areas, which expresses deep problems in equal opportunities.
Solar lamp Andean province of Canchis. Credits: Practical Action
Solar lamp Andean province of Canchis. The main source of energy is dung, which is used for both cooking and heating. This solar lamps leaverages another renewable energy source – the power of the sun.
Credits: Practical Action

Living off the grid

Considering the current situation and plans for electricity coverage, the only option for providing energy to these towns is through non-conventional systems. Renewable energy sources are the best chance to provide reliable and independent solutions. Practical Action is one organisation that is working on this. In this context, they aim to:
  • Develop, validate and disseminate appropriate technologies and methodologies for rural regions using water (small, micro and picocentrales hydro), wind (wind turbines) and the sun (photovoltaic modules).
    Other sources or technologies, such as biomass and geothermal energy, are considered as well.
  • Promote and foster more and better sustainable energisation processes in isolated rural communities of Peru and Bolivia.
  • Consolidate, develop and disseminate management models and technologies appropriate to rural contexts to make feasible mass use of renewable energy in rural possible.
  • Promote the participation of local and subnational governments of Bolivia and Peru in the design and implementation of energy policies that promote renewable energy technologies.

Practical Projects and their outcome

Some of the projects Practical Action has been working can show some great results. Let’s look at two of them:
Francisca in the school Morowisha. The installation of a hybrid solar and wind energy system has transformed the lives of this community in the Cajamarca district of Peru. Credits: Practical Action
Francisca in the school Morowisha. The installation of a hybrid solar and wind energy system has transformed the lives of this community in the Cajamarca district of Peru.
Credits: Practical Action
Promotion of appropriate use of electricity in the extension zones of electrical frontiers in Catamarca, benefiting almost 20,000 residents in over 300 rural communities in four provinces of Catamarca Region:
  • Over 270,000 young people from rural villages have been trained in basic electronics and are now providing services in their communities.
  • 4,000+ households received direct information on the use of electricity, both households and industries.
  • Almost 100 carpenters have been trained in use of power tools for woodworking and technical assistance from diesel to electric conversion.
  • 6 rice mills and one corn mill are in the process of conversion from diesel to electricity.
  • That is a calculated overall increase of over 36,000 kWh / month, either generated from renewable sources or converted from fossil fuel consumption.
Men carrying a mini hydro turbine across a field. Credits: Oliver Marcelo
Community members overcoming the task of setting up a mini hydro power plant. Due to the inaccessibility of the site, they had to walk over a ploughed field, carrying the casing of the 25 kW axial turbine that was to be installed.
Credits: Oliver Marcelo
With the project Access to energy in Cajamarca communities through planning with renewable energy, Practical Action have been working in the provinces of San Marcos and San Pablo to allow people access to energy by technological innovation and the use of appropriate technologies in isolated rural areas. The most important results of the period are as follows:
  • Over 70 families across 3 communities institutions have received electricity for the first time.
  • Currently, they are running one solar microgrid, 23 photovoltaic modules and one picocentral hydroelectric.
  • 1 micro-hydropower and 5 tubular biodigester have been installed.
And these are just some highlights. You can read more details about their projects on their website.

Who is behind this?

Practical Action is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that uses technology to challenge poverty in developing countries, founded in 1966. Practical Action is a registered UK charity. They work across Africa, Latin America, Asia and Sudan.
They look at the current situation – what people are currently doing – and help them to do it better through technology. This way they enable poor communities to build on their skills and knowledge to produce sustainable and practical solutions – transforming their lives forever and protecting the world around them.

Practical Action’s projects are organised under four programme themes:
  • Sustainable energy access, 
  • Food and agriculture, 
  • Urban water and waste plus 
  • Disaster risk reduction.
  • Plus two cross-cutting themes present across their work: Climate change and markets.

Why I chose to support them

I like their focus on using technology, not only to lower the gap of poverty by enabling communities to thrive, but also bridging the technology gap.
Receipt for mil leaves' donation to Practical Action
Receipt for mil leaves’ donation to Practical Action

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