worldandmedia.com

Togo: Solar Grandmothers

 Lar Boland.

The lives of four grandmothers from the rural village of Agome Sevah, Togo in West Africa have undergone an amazing transformation. The women travelled 5000 miles to Rajasthan in India where they trained over a six month period in Solar Electronics at the famous Barefoot College. There, they were mentored by like-minded Indian women, some of whom were themselves graduates of the College.

Leaving their families in Togo for such a long period of time was difficult for them but their reward was to become Solar Grandmothers with the prospect of electrifying their village on their return.

On completion of their training at the college, the Solar Grandmothers returned to their villages to install, maintain, and train others in solar electrification. Schools, clinics, places of worship and private homes could now have artificial light, with the potential to improve the education, health and social lives of the villagers.

The women Barefoot Solar Engineers of Africa aim to improve the lives of the rural poor living on less than €1 a day in remote inaccessible villages off the energy grids in the 21 least developed countries in Africa, supplying their communities with clean, low cost household lighting from solar energy.

Togo: Solar Grandmothers

 Lar Boland.

The lives of four grandmothers from the rural village of Agome Sevah, Togo in West Africa have undergone an amazing transformation. The women travelled 5000 miles to Rajasthan in India where they trained over a six month period in Solar Electronics at the famous Barefoot College. There, they were mentored by like-minded Indian women, some of whom were themselves graduates of the College.

Leaving their families in Togo for such a long period of time was difficult for them but their reward was to become Solar Grandmothers with the prospect of electrifying their village on their return.

On completion of their training at the college, the Solar Grandmothers returned to their villages to install, maintain, and train others in solar electrification. Schools, clinics, places of worship and private homes could now have artificial light, with the potential to improve the education, health and social lives of the villagers.

The women Barefoot Solar Engineers of Africa aim to improve the lives of the rural poor living on less than €1 a day in remote inaccessible villages off the energy grids in the 21 least developed countries in Africa, supplying their communities with clean, low cost household lighting from solar energy.

Growth. Huh. What is it good for? Absolute poverty

 DFID.

Kenya and Ireland are leading current discussions on sustainable development targets for the next 15 years. One of the proposed targets is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Whether that and the other goals will be met will depend to a significant extent on the pace and nature of economic growth in India and sub-Saharan Africa.

Probably every Western country has one or two newspapers that depict it as besieged by immigrants, crime and/or antisocial youths. What is strange about foreign news is that the overwhelming majority of national media proudly convey an image of the world going to hell in a handbasket. The truth is far more positive – so far.

One simple statistic which captures what has happened to human well-being between 1980 and 2013, is that average global life expectancy went from 59 to 71. That progress is extraordinary and has no parallel in human history. Life expectancy at birth in China is now 75. India's life expectancy is 66 – the same as China's in 1980 – up from 55 in 1980.

In the same period, the global economy has more than trebled. So, does growth explain the improvement in life expectancy? According to UNDP data, Chinese GNI per capita increased by over 1400% between 1980 and 2012. India's GNI per capita increased by a more modest 273% in the same period. However, India's improvement in life expectancy was comparable to China's (it increased by much more but started from a lower base). The rest of the global economy grew a bit more slowly than India, but achieved a similar jump in life expectancy.

The most direct cause of rising life expectancy has been the dramatic reduction in child mortality in recent decades. Success in reducing child mortality has been uneven, however. There has been slower progress in reducing death associated with childbirth, even though millions of lives could be saved at low-cost. According to the WHO:

'Every year nearly 41% of all under-five child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period. Three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life… Almost 3 million of all the babies who die each year can be saved with low-tech, low-cost care.'

Growth. Huh. What is it good for? Absolute poverty

 DFID.

Kenya and Ireland are leading current discussions on sustainable development targets for the next 15 years. One of the proposed targets is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Whether that and the other goals will be met will depend to a significant extent on the pace and nature of economic growth in India and sub-Saharan Africa.

Probably every Western country has one or two newspapers that depicts it as besieged by immigrants, crime and/or antisocial youths. What is strange about foreign news is that the overwhelming majority of national media proudly convey an image of the world going to hell in a handbasket. The truth is far more positive – so far.

One simple statistic which captures what has happened to human well-being between 1980 and 2013, is that average global life expectancy went from 59 to 71. That progress is extraordinary and has no parallel in human history. Life expectancy at birth in China is now 75. India's life expectancy is 66 – the same as China's level in 1980 – up from 55 in 1980.

In the same period, the global economy has more than trebled. So, does growth explain the improvement in life expectancy? According to UNDP data, Chinese GNI per capita increased by over 1400% between 1980 and 2012. India's GNI per capita increased by a more modest 273% in the same period. However, India's improvement in life expectancy increased was comparable to China's, taking into account that it started from a lower base. The rest of the global economy grew a bit more slowly than India, but achieved a similar jump in life expectancy.

The most direct cause of rising life expectancy has been the dramatic reduction in child mortality in recent decades. Success in reducing child mortality has been uneven, however. There has been slower progress in reducing death associated with childbirth, even though millions of lives could be saved at low-cost. According to the WHO:

'Every year nearly 41% of all under-five child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period. Three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life… Almost 3 million of all the babies who die each year can be saved with low-tech, low-cost care.'