iDE UK at the Ashden Awards

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The iDE UK team attended the Ashden Awards last week. Here are some of the thoughts of one of our volunteers, Sheri Haward:

“I was pleased to attend the Ashden awards last week. There are some highlights  to interning at iDE, not least to be able to participate in a conference that promotes what is happening at the cutting edge of sustainable energy in the UK and abroad.

Yet sustainability is a bit of a buzz word nowadays, isn’t it? Is it really making a difference to people’s lives or effecting changes around the world or even in the United Kingdom? When you look at the news, it doesn’t seem so, there is just the perpetual doom and gloom about extreme weather events or new weather records or failed or failing political summits. Adding to this is the realisation that resources are being used up at an alarming rate and the alternatives are confusing or seem unpopular.

Thankfully, the Ashden awards  provide the  perfect antidote, showing us how the answers are not just with the big shot politicians or EU, UN or G8 agendas, but with ordinary people like you and me. It’s people like us who have come up with a  variety of inspirational,  innovative approaches and technologies, which are the key to getting sustainable energy solutions to reach scale, not just in the developing world, but in the UK too. As the Director of the Wadebridge Renewal Energy Network, a UK finalist, said, “People with no resources & no influence CAN do something about the energy crisis.”

iDE is a keen supporter of Ashden and won the award for ‘Avoided deforestation’ last year for ‘Hydrologic’, an enterprise manufacturing low-cost ceramic water filters, which it developed in Cambodia. Two thirds of the population of Cambodia didn’t have access to safe water when iDE started with Hydrologic. Most had to resort to boiling it, a process which involved chopping down Cambodia’s precious rainforest.

Mrs. Chey and her Hydrologic

A Cambodian home with the Hydrologic water filter in pride of place next to the TV. Photo: iDE UK- David Graham

Following last year’s award, Hydrologic has attracted investment from a number of new partners and Hydrologic carbon credits have been sold for the first time on the voluntary market. It has flourished over this year, sales have increased significantly –  with over 250,000 sold in the last ten years. These water filters are becoming a fixture in many Cambodian homes (see photo above). You can learn more from the video about Hydrologic in Cambodia from last year’s Ashden Award here.

The 2013 finalists had all come up with energy solutions, which are being adopted by communities and some which were being pioneered by whole communities too, like in Wadebridge in Cornwall, a town that has collectively decided to generate 100% of its electricity by 2020. This year’s International awards featured organisations that are investing in both energy efficiency and renewable energy to boost economic growth by creating new livelihoods, jobs and skills.

iDE as a whole (not just me) congratulates the International Gold winners, Solar Aid, a charity that pioneers solar powered lamps, as the alternative to smoky kerosene lamps. Most families want a lamp, not just to improve the quality of life in their homes, but so children can study and get ahead. This creates an enormous market for solar-powered lamps, in the last 8 weeks alone, Steve Andrews, the Solar Aid CEO commented that a 100,000 lamps were sold.  By switching to solar powered lamps, families in Africa save around £77 per year, which is a substantial amount for poor families.

I also liked another finalist, Azuri.  Azuri offers pay-as-you-go scratch cards for a domestic, small solar energy scheme, so they don’t have to take loans or microfinance for sustainable electrification of their homes. As Simon Bransfield-Garth of Azuri stated: “Stop viewing rural Africa as victims, but as customers.”

iDE has always had the same approach to its small-holder, farming clients. They are not beneficiaries of charity, but pro-active, entrepreneurial men and women who are looking for long-term sustainable ways to get out of poverty. iDE facilitates these solutions, with the aim  that they can be set up and remain in place because they are commercially viable.

Attending the Ashden conference was an inspiring event that actually filled me with hope. Hope for the future of this planet, this country and people in general. The participants were all passionate in their commitment to sustainability and the many different energy solutions offered not only made sense from a climate change perspective, but were significantly more economical in the long run. You can read more about The Ashden awards  here. 

(hawardsheri@gmail.com)

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iDE Cambodia Celebrates Another Successful Year!

iDE Cambodia

Last month, Rachel Pringle stopped by our London office to tell us about the latest news and successes of iDE Cambodia.

Rachel joined iDE Cambodia in March 2012, and is thoroughly enjoying her time out there! Fortunately for us, she was able to drop by our London office during her time back in the UK for Christmas to give us a fascinating update on some of the amazing work happening out in Phnom Penh.

iDE Cambodia have had a wonderfully successful year, the big success story of the year was iDE Cambodia’s ceramic water filter enterprise Hydrologic winning an Ashden Award www.ashden.org – a huge achievement which has benefited the project in numerous ways. As well as bringing in a variety of opportunities, support, networks and connections, Rachel and the team can now use their knowledge from Cambodia to work with partners to develop similar commercial operations around the world, helping with product development, commercial opportunities, technical support and sales models. In 2013, Hydrologic will also branch out to develop new products and services to improve safe water access in rural Cambodian schools.

We were delighted to hear that Hydrologic with support from Nexus Carbon for Development have had their first Voluntary Gold Standard carbon credits issued in December http://www.cdmgoldstandard.org/bringing-clean-water-to-cambodia. Two thirds of rural households in Cambodia use wood or charcoal to boil water before drinking. Although helpful for purifying water, this has a high environmental cost. Hydrologic ceramic water filters reduce the amount of wood burnt and bolster rural economic development. By displacing water boiling practices, Hydrologic helps households avoid burning over 18,000 tons of wood each year, saving more than 40,000 tons of CO2 emissions yearly.

Hydrologic was also a winner of an Impact Business Award in 2011, meaning Rachel was able to attend an Impact Business Forum event in Pretoria, South Africa where she was able to gather ideas and learn from other entrepreneurs.

Another aspect we were particularly interested in here at iDE UK was the Hydrologic microfinance scheme carried out in partnership with microfinance institution Visionfund, whereby customers purchasing ceramic water filters are given the opportunity to take out a loan to pay for the installation of the filter. This has proven extremely successful as the vast majority of customers opt to take the loan when available and to date 100% have repaid the loan within the given repayment period. Visionfund also partner with iDE Cambodia’s sanitation team to provide microloans to rural customers for latrines. In 2012, Rachel has been working to develop financing options, including partnerships with microfinance institutions and web-based microfinance platform KIVA for iDE Cambodia’s Farm Business Advisor (FBA) enterprise to enable farmers and FBA entrepreneurs to purchase agricultural inputs and equipment that will improve their yields and income.

iDE Cambodia’s innovation team i-Lab have also had a busy year –  the i-Lab facility develops products and services that challenge key issues for the rural poor in Cambodia. The i-Lab designs radically affordable, market-based solutions for the poor to help them take steps out of poverty on their own. They also work to build the capacities of other organisations so that they can more effectively innovate pro-poor solutions. The i-Lab has now secured a number of innovation projects in 2013 including in the areas of hand hygiene, and clean drinking water access.

 

We can’t wait to see what is in store for Cambodia in 2013!

Thanks for stopping by Rachel!

 

Rachel (left) accepting our Impact Business Forum award

Rachel (left) accepting our Impact Business Forum award

Congratulations to our Volunteers of the Year 2012!

iDE UK CEO Lewis Temple (Centre) awards Gary Cosby (Left) and Vivyan Chen (Right) with their Volunteer of the Year certificates.

We are happy to announce that our dedicated volunteers Vivyan Chen and Gary Cosby have been awarded iDE UK Volunteer of the Year for 2012!

Gary and Vivyan have been working closely with iDE UK over the past year, donating their time generously on top of other work and study commitments. They have both done a fantastic job applying their expert skills and knowledge to help us develop our communications and web management. Between them they have launched all of iDE UK’s social media channels, creating our blog, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest pages to establish our online presence.

Gary said “Volunteering for iDE UK is an absolute pleasure. The work they do is fantastic, and they are so committed to their cause. Always appreciative and, most importantly, they are making a real difference to the world. Vivyan and I are thrilled to be ordained ‘iDE UK volunteers of the year’! Thanks guys!”

Thanks for all your help Gary and Vivyan!

Are you interested in volunteering for iDE UK?

iDE UK welcomes new gender programme officer!

Sarah will be working on improving gender equality throughout our development programmes.

 

Sarah: I’m delighted to re-join the iDE team after my stint as a Programmes Intern this summer, and to contribute to iDE UK’s learning and expertise in women in agriculture. This project ties in with our 2012 theme of gender, and will see iDE UK develop tools to identify and address women’s needs and constraints, and measure the impacts of our activities in the most effective and appropriate ways. This will ensure that women, as well as men, reap the maximum benefits from iDE’s activities and that we are able to document and monitor our outcomes for women, improving our overall learning.

I graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of Sussex in 2004, and have since worked and volunteered for a range of organisations both in the UK and abroad, leading to a broad interest in exploitation and human rights. While volunteering in Nepal in 2007, I became particularly interested in human trafficking and when I returned to the UK, joined the POPPY project as a volunteer research assistant and went on to several paid positions. On a slight tangent, I then moved to Rwanda for a year to work for the Ministry of Infrastructure, which was a great challenge. Upon my return in 2010, I started a Masters in Education, Gender and International development, while working part-time for a small charity focusing on human trafficking in India. Over the years, while retaining a primary focus on women, I have become increasingly interested in more practical, sustainable approaches to development and I am very much looking forward to putting these principles into practice!

Welcome to the team Sarah!

The two David’s supporting entrepreneurs in Bangladesh for iDE UK!

The two David’s – David Graham (L) and David Jackson (R) in Bangladesh

iDE UK in Dhaka

David Graham captures life in Dhaka, Bangladesh where iDE UK are working to combat rural poverty.

Today we would like to share with you a few photographs from Dhaka  in Bangladesh, where our lovely programmes manager David Jackson and award winning photographer and ambassador of iDE UK, David Graham are currently visiting. Dhaka is home to the iDE Bangladesh office and is the hub of all projects and activity to support rural farmers in Bangladesh, including an exciting new latrine project funded by the EU.

These photos help give an insight into the lives of those living in Dhaka, which is the 9th largest city in the world. Although poverty is a fundamental problem across Bangladesh, iDE UK is working hard to ensure small scale rural farmers have access to innovative technologies which can lead to an increased income for themselves and their families.

Next week we’ll be following the two David’s journey into rural Bangladesh where they will visit farmers on the ground to find out how they are combatting poverty with the help of iDE UK.

For more information about iDE UK please visit: http://www.ide-uk.org

iDE UK in Nepal

This week we are looking at the farming techniques used by rural farmers with iDE UK in Nepal.

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iDE UK are helping farmers optimise their land in Nepal

iDE UK has been working in Nepal since the early 90’s and the Nepal programme is now one of the largest within the iDE family.  Since establishment iDE Nepal has reached more than 170,000 poor farming families and achieved an average annual per family income increase of £125.

This photograph captures the challenging landscape rural farmers in Nepal are working on every day in order to grow their crops and create sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families. Here, we can see how terracing techniques can maximise the growing potential of this land. Although very effective, this method of farming is often difficult and labour intensive, with farmers working on plots of land as thin as one meter deep. However, these mountainous regions produce a number of profitable crops including Camomile oil, which sells for £200 – £240 a kilo, proving to be very a lucrative product for the farmers! With the help of iDE UK, these farmers are using innovative technologies and techniques in order to make the most out of the land they have around them to create sustainable livelihoods to help them out of poverty.

To find out more about iDE UK please visit our website at: http://www.ide-uk.org