Renewable World is a tiny, Sussex-based charity with enormous ambitions. It works in remote locations around the world to fund and co-ordinate renewable energy projects that will lift people out of poverty. So far, it has enjoyed extraordinary success.
This weekend, it will be the subject of a BBC Lifeline Appeal film. A film crew from the BBC went to Nepal with a team from Renewable World and Strictly Come Dancing star, Gethin Jones, to shoot the nine minute film. While there, they saw a series of projects that are transforming lives and livelihoods.
In the Dhading region of Nepal, access to water was extremely limited. As a result, people had to spend much of their time collecting water for drinking and watering crops. Because of the lack of water, growing crops was very difficult and nutrition suffered. Families had to spend what little money they had buying food at the market.
Working with local partners, Renewable World organised the construction of a hydraulic ram pump. The pump pushes water uphill to where it is needed.
It has transformed farming for the community. Thanks to the improved access to water, they are able to grow higher value crops – even in the dry season. Their own nutrition has improved and they are able to sell at market and make a small profit. They don’t have to spend their time collecting water, so the children can go to school. The women tend the crops and manage the co-operative that runs the project. They feel proud and empowered.
In another project, Renewable World has overseen the construction of a biogas plant. The plant takes all animal and human waste and transforms it into clean gas for cooking, heating and lighting. The by-product is nutrient rich fertiliser. Not only does this project improve the lives of the people in the community, but it deals with the environmental problem of waste disposal at the same time.
Wherever it works, Renewable World ensures that the projects it works on will survive after the charity has left. It provides enterprise training to teach people how to manage the money, maximise the profits and maintain the technology and sets up co-operatives to ensure a sense of shared ownership among the people benefitting.
In a month, Comic Relief will have many of us doing “something funny for money”. Comic Relief is a great charity doing important work with the support of a host of celebrities. I think it’s important to remember the little guys too, working tirelessly out of the spotlight to make people’s lives better.
To find out more about Renewable World’s extraordinary work, tune in to BBC 1 on Sunday 17 February at 4:20pm. The film will also be available on BBC iPlayer.