Three sustainable energy trail blazers working in East Africa win prestigious Ashden Award

Three sustainable energy trail blazers working in East Africa – Futurepump, Haileybury Youth Trust and Mobisol – have all won a prestigious 2017 Ashden Award, the world’s leading green energy awards.

From developing solar irrigation pumps to promoting low-carbon buildings to providing powerful solar home systems, all three organisations have been recognised as leaders in their field in the region.

Winner of the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy and Water, supported by the Waterloo Foundation, Futurepump makes a low-cost, highly efficient and portable solar irrigation pump for smallholder farmers in Kenya and around the world, allowing them to reduce costs and increase their income by growing more crops all year round.

Millions of smallholder farmers around the world rely on rainfall water to irrigate their crops. This is becoming very unpredictable and they are turning to fuel-powered pumps that are expensive and pollute the environment. Portable solar-powered pumps are a cleaner, cheaper alternative that allow farmers to grow more crops during more of the year.

According to the Ashden judges: “Futurepump’s pioneering solar-powered irrigation technology is helping smallholder farmers irrigate more land and leapfrog to year-round sustainable crop growing which is simultaneously increasing their productivity and income as well as allowing them to move away from polluting diesel.”

Haileybury Youth Trust (HYT) is the winner of the Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings, supported by the Grosvenor Group. HYT is a charity training young people in Uganda to build using interlocking blocks made of compressed earth – a low-cost, carbon-saving alternative to the environmentally damaging fired brick.

Uganda has one of the fastest growing populations on earth, meaning that the requirement for new housing, schools and other infrastructure is fueling mass deforestation due to the manufacture of fired clay bricks. Through its training programme, HYT is creating much needed jobs for young people in local communities and the organisation particularly targets those currently not in work.

According to the Ashden judges: “The benefits of this scheme go way beyond the environmental impact – reducing deforestation and curbing CO2 emissions through a low carbon building technique – and encompass health, training and employment opportunities, even access to education. HYT’s model is a simple one but is scalable and robust.”

Mobisol – winner of the Ashden Judges’ Special Award – sells powerful solar home systems that allow customers to use fridges, watch TV and charge mobile phones without relying on fossil fuels, and using an affordable mobile payment plan. Some 80,000 solar home systems have been installed in East Africa so far, benefitting more than 400,000 people.

Mobisol’s high power solar systems can be used not just for homes but for small businesses, enabling entrepreneurial customers to earn additional income.

According to Thomas Duveau, Chief Strategy Officer at Mobisol: “The whole team at Mobisol is very honoured to receive the Judges’ Award this year which acknowledges our endeavour to scale the supply of Mobisol solar home and business systems to empower households and small businesses in Africa.”

The Ashden Awards are given to pioneers in sustainable energy and are a globally recognised measure of excellence. The winning organisations will receive their Award on Thursday 15 June at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Former Vice-President of the US Al Gore is the keynote speaker and Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy is hosting the Awards.

International Ashden Award winners receive £20,000 in prize money along with a tailored package of support to help scale up their work.

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