Radio 4 Appeal

Our appeal has raised over £29,000 – thank you to everyone who supported it!

On Sunday 24 April 2016, travel writer, explorer, and photographer Levison Wood presented our BBC Radio 4 Appeal, introducing the story of Sushmita and the work that we have done in her community in Nepal. If you haven’t yet done so, you can still listen to and support our appeal using the buttons below.

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Our appeal coincided with the anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck her country almost exactly one year before. The events of that day impacted on hundreds of thousands of families and claimed the lives of over 8,000 people.

The work that we do helps to alleviate poverty and build resilience within communities, providing them with the necessities they need to overcome shocks such as earthquakes or droughts. Since the earthquake struck, we have been working with communities in Nepal, providing access to energy and water to assist their recovery and improve their lives.

Our BBC Radio 4 Appeal highlighted how our projects have helped improve the lives of Sushmita and those within her community. Catch up or listen again here.

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Sushmita’s story

Among the many hills of Nepal, lie hundreds of villages sitting high above a reliable water source. With such limited access to water, household sanitation will be poor, health will suffer, and fields will lie barren – particularly in the dry season. The responsibility of collecting water often falls to the women and young girls of the village. They will spend up to four hours each day walking to the to the nearest stream or spring, just to get enough water for basic household use. The path to the water source is steep and can be dangerous, especially at night and in wet conditions.

Sushmita Regmi lives with her family in the village of Sirubari, in the Syangja district of Nepal. Since she was a young girl she has been responsible for collecting water for her family. Because of the time she spent travelling to and from the spring her education has suffered; she was often late for school, and lacked the sufficient time needed for homework or to study for exams.

In 2013, Renewable World brought a clean energy solution to Sirubari. The installation of a solar-powered water pump means that water is now lifted to a collection tank above the village. This tank is connected to tap stands throughout the village and provides Sushmita, and others in her community, with easier access to water. The villagers now only need to walk a short distance to a tap stand near their homes in order to fetch the water that they need for drinking, irrigation or domestic purposes.

This improved access to water now means that no one in the community walks for more than 15-minutes to collect water. Agriculture is thriving as the land that had previously been dry is now full of crops. These crops can then be sold at market – improving household income, or eaten by the family – improving their diet and health.

Read Sushmita’s full story here.

Find out more in this short video by our Global Programme Manager

Renewable energy for tackling poverty

Simple, clean and sustainable technology can be a solution to help tackle the issue of water access for communities like Sirubari in the mid-hills of Nepal.

Our solar-powered water pumping project in Nepal uses PV solar panels to generate power and run a water pump. It is a battery-free system, meaning that water is only pumped while there is sunlight, but this also means it is simple to operate and maintain. The water is lifted from a capped source, usually a natural spring, to a storage tank located above the community. It is then distributed through a carefully designed Multiple Use System (MUS) to purpose built tap stands outside family homes and within easy reach of fields. The MUS takes into account the multiple purposes that water may be used for – such as domestic, sanitation, and agricultural use – and ensures a suitable distribution for each, as well as equal distribution among users.

With the time saved on collecting water, people can devote their energy to much more productive and worthwhile activities. Young girls like Susmita can concentrate on their studies, women can take up extra income-earning cottage industry activities or join adult education classes, and families can improve their agricultural productivity, turning land that previously lay barren into income-earning assets.

Our pilot SolarMUS project in 2013 saw six villages benefit from the technology and improved access to water. With a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, we are now in the process of installing a further 19 water pumps in communities across Nepal. We are also bringing our expertise in this technology to the DFID funded BRACED (Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Resilience) Programme.

The solar-powered water pump is just one example of the type of clean technology we use to tackle energy poverty, improve access to basic resources and provide a catalyst for livelihood improvement. Across our programmes we work with technology that is relevant and appropriate for the environment we’re in, while making sure it solves the problem of the community in question. We aspire to pilot and refine clean energy solutions for remote, energy-poor communities that can be locally managed and maintained. We also provide communities with the tools they need to ensure the projects are sustainable from a financial, technical, social and environmental point of view. Find out more about our work here.

It’s not too late to support our appeal

The money raised through our Radio 4 Appeal will help to improve the lives of people like Sushmita in Nepal, Bangladesh, Kenya and Nicaragua. Providing access to energy is essential in the fight against poverty and it is only with your support that we are able to do this.

You can still donate online or by writing a cheque to Renewable World and send it to Freepost BBC Radio 4 Appeal.

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About our presenter

We were delighted when Levison Wood agreed to present our appeal. His documentary series Walking the Nile and Walking the Himalayas have allowed him to visit some of the most remote settlements in the world, meeting communities like the ones we work with and seeing first-hand the struggles they face on a daily basis without access to energy.

Listen to this short audio clip as Levison explains why he is proud to support Renewable World.

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