Felicity Jones and Gareth Williams have recently returned from a trip to The Gambia with Concern Universal. During their visit they met two innovative solar organisations: Solar Project Tiloo and GAM-Solar Energy.
Solar Project Tiloo
This inspiring project helps to produce and distribute solar cookers in The Gambia. Solar cookers are promoted and sold through cooking demonstrations in cities and villages all over the country, and via educational programmes in schools.
- Environmental benefits: solar cookers reduce the dependence on fuel wood for cooking, which leads to a reduction in carbon emissions and deforestation.
- Social benefits: solar cookers deliver financial savings for vulnerable families, some of which would otherwise spend one third of their monthly income on fuel. Moreover, there are significant health benefits; solar cookers reduce the incidences of eye and respiratory ailments associated with smoky fires.
GAM-Solar works closely with NGOs, community-based organisations and the Gambia Government to install and promote solar technologies for sustainable development. So far GAM-Solar has installed 80 village solar pumping stations to provide clean potable water to more than 200,000 villagers. It has also contributed to numerous agricultural solar irrigation projects.
- Environmental benefits: GAM-Solar reduces carbon emissions through promoting new energy technologies and energy efficiency.
- Social benefits: GAM-Solar plays a leading role in three key-sectors of development – electricity, water and food. Many of its services are targeted at vulnerable rural communities in The Gambia.
Impact on Caplor Energy
Meeting these two exemplar solar technology organisations has inspired the team at Caplor Energy to consider how we can maximise the environmental and social sustainability of our activities. We have already taken steps in these areas, but recognise the need to do even more:
- Environmental benefits: Our renewable energy systems empower people to reduce their carbon footprint. We were recently awarded a Sustainable Travel Grant by Herefordshire Council. In March-May 2010, we will be hosting a 7-week carbon footprinting placement for a young Geography graduate Jack Rickard; this research will be used as a basis for identifying further areas for environmental improvement.
- Social benefits: Our renewable energy installation service is targeted at the local community. We aim to accommodate employees’ family/voluntary commitments through flexible work arrangements. We strive to provide work experience opportunities to unemployed graduates and have delivered presentations at local schools.