It's all very well when well-off schlubs like me go on about reducing their environmental impact, but the fact of the matter is, there are lots of people in the world who only wish they could make environmental impact.
That's why I think the folks at the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) are real eco-heroes. SELF's mission is to bring solar power and modern communications to rural villages in the developing world--to produce meaningful, life-improving enhancements in health, education, and economic well-being.
In other words, while the rest of us wring our hands and worry about the effect on climate change of the developing world improving its standard of living, the folks at SELF are already working to improve those life quality standards in a sustainable way. They are both preventing increasing CO2 emissions and making life easier and better for people (a happier planet, as I always say, makes for happier people).
For example, according to an article posted at Renewable Energy World by SELF executive director Bob Freling:
"The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is working to install low-cost micro-irrigation and solar water pumps in two villages in Kalalé District [of Benin in western Africa]. This will create a reliable and economical means of irrigation and enable families in these villages to grow crops during the six month dry season for significant improvements in family income and nutrition. At least 20 families (100-200 people) will directly benefit from the solar-irrigation project and approximately 4,500 people living in two communities will benefit from the added supply of clean water during the rainy season."
About another project, Bob writes:
"Like all modern medical centers, the five rural health clinics in eastern Rwanda operated by Partners In Health (PIH) need reliable power 24/7. But unlike other offgrid facilities, each of these centers is powered by a hefty 4.4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system designed and installed by the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF). The solar systems have been up and running since February 2007."
These are just two among a slew of other incredible projects: solar schools in South Africa's Eastern Cape, solar electrification of clinics in Tanzania in league with Clinton Global Initiative, solar electrification of Jan Goodall's Gombe Research Center and on and on.
To find out more about SELF's excellent work, look here.
To make a contribution and support SELF's projects, go here.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.