2015 Ashden International Award winners
International Gold Award and Ashden Award for Business Innovation, supported by Citi
Lake Victoria’s fishing villages and other rural communities in Kenya are benefiting from clean light and power for the first time, thanks to renewable energy micro-grids. Using the natural energy of the sun, they work like mini power stations for each village, supplying enough energy to run small businesses, as well as power TVs, radios and bright lights in the home. Solar power in East Africa is not new, but what’s exciting about SteamaCo is the technology behind it: the micro-grids use an innovative cloud-based remote metering and payments system that monitors energy use, lets people pay for power using their mobile phones, and quickly troubleshoots any problems. With around 80% of Kenyans lacking access to mains electricity, SteamaCo is helping to bring the benefits of clean energy to increasing numbers of off-grid customers.
Ashden Award for Clean Energy for Women and Girls, supported by UK aid
BURN Manufacturing is helping improve the lives of women and girls in East Africa with its efficient charcoal-burning Jikokoa™ stove and employment opportunities. The stove itself represents a step-change in the design and efficiency of charcoal-burning cook stoves, dramatically improving the health and wellbeing of its users. As well as being an aspirational household product, it cuts down on smoke and soot by more than 60% compared to the widely used Kenya ceramic jiko, and significantly reduces the time spent cooking and collecting wood. But it’s not just women using the stoves who benefit. With all manufacture now done in a new state-of-the-art factory in Kenya, BURN emphasises that all jobs are open to both men and women at all levels – just over half of its workforce are women.
Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings, supported by Grosvenor
By unlocking financing to build low-carbon social housing, EcoCasa stands to help transform Mexico’s social housing sector. The programme is the initiative of local housing development bank Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal (SHF), working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the German Development Bank (KfW) to offer low-interest loans to local building developers in return for them creating sustainable homes. Developers must build social housing with at least 20% lower carbon emissions than standard designs, without increasing the sale price. Carbon savings are achieved through a range of energy-saving measures like insulation, window shades and solar water heaters, with SHF checking designs and construction quality. With nearly 12,000 homes already sold or under construction, there’s funding for up to 27,600 homes.
Ashden Award for Energy and Agriculture, supported by the Waterloo Foundation
Costa Rican dairy farmers are enjoying higher incomes thanks to new specially designed solar water heaters that supply hot water for washing their milking equipment and milk tanks. The cost of electricity is very high in Costa Rica, making heating water a major expense for a dairy farmer – but failing to use hot water would compromise the quality and cleanliness of their milk. Solar enterprise Enertiva developed the water heaters especially for the dairy farmers, teaming up with the milk-purchasing cooperative Dos Pinos, which lends the farmers the money to buy them. With the costs of the heaters paid back within a year from the saving in electricity, greater prosperity is coming to both the farmers and their communities.
Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP)
Ashden Award for Increasing Energy Access, supported by the IKEA Foundation
The remote Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Northern Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border, is one of the most remote and challenging areas of the world to live. With no mains electricity in many villages, life grinds to a halt after sunset. But something the mountainous area does have in abundance is water. Since 2004, local NGO the Sarhad Rural Support Programme has built 189 micro-hydro schemes, bringing electricity to around 365,000 people and transforming communities in the process. Electricity makes studying easier and health care safer, while appliances like washing machines reduce the drudgery of housework for women. And access to power enables a multitude of new businesses to start up, from flour mills to hotels.