Three social welfare initiatives vie for Dh5.51 million prize

Non-profit organisations aim to provide clean energy technologies to help underprivileged populations

  • Practical Action, based in the United Kingdom, works in a number of continents to provide technology access toImage Credit: Courtesy: ZFEP
  • Practical Action has provided Nepalese women with stoves.Image Credit: Courtesy: ZFEP
  • We Care Solar works to reduce maternal and childhood mortality by providing health workers with reliable lightImage Credit: Courtesy: ZFEP
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: With the aim of making lives easier for underprivileged populations, dozens of non-profit organisations awarded with the Zayed Future Energy Prize are today providing clean energy and lighting solutions.

This month, three other entities will compete to win the $1.5 million (Dh5.51) award and gain funding for their social welfare projects. The finalists that have been selected help populations across Africa, Asia and Central America, and the winning project will be announced during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize was first awarded in 2008 with the aim of promoting clean energy technologies, water conservation and environmental sustainability. Till date, the awarded projects have positively impacted the lives of 202 million people worldwide.

The winning initiatives provide electricity from renewable sources to 63 million people, and allow seven million people access to safe and affordable water. About 14 million children are now able to study at night using solar-powered lanterns, and 21 million people can use modern energy sources. In addition, the schemes have helped prevent 887 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

Two of this year’s non-profit organisation finalists are headquartered in the United States.

We Care Solar, which operates in 30 countries today, works to reduce maternal and childhood mortality and illness by providing health workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication, and solar-powered medical devices. One of their pioneering technologies is the Solar Suitcase, a compact solar electric system that fits in a suitcase and can power LED overhead lighting, charge cell phones and light LED headlamps.

To date, the organisation has equipped more than 1,800 health centres with energy-efficient technology, and trained over 5,000 health workers who serve more than 700,000 mothers and their newborns.

“The Zayed Future Energy Prize will enable us to scale our operations, and increase our impact by bringing life-saving maternal health care to thousands of mothers and their newborns. It will also support our student education programme, fostering the next generation of solar innovators,” Laura Stachel, co-founder and executive director of We Care Solar, told Gulf News.

The other American organisation, Solar Sister, said it aims to eradicate energy poverty by empowering women with economic opportunity. It is a women-led enterprise, including a direct sales network, for clean energy staffed by female workers and entrepreneurs.

“Zayed Future Energy Prize is a testament to Solar Sister’s guiding values of sisterhood, grit and trust. A better future is possible — we can imagine it, and we can do it, together. We are very much looking forward to being a part of this global family of pioneers and innovators,” said Neha Misra, co-founder and chief collaboration officer at the organisation.

The third finalist, Practical Action, is based in the United Kingdom. It works in a number of continents to provide technology access to reduce poverty.

Paul Smith-Lomas of Practical Action said winning the prize will enable the entity to scale its operations.

“The award will allow us to demonstrate scale and sustainability, as well as lever traditional and social media to promote our energy messages to new audiences. In addition, the Zayed Future Energy Prize event will give us an opportunity to network with influential decision makers and promote our research and knowledge to people who can use it to bring in real, long-term sustainable change,” Smith-Lomas said.

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