Monday, September 14, 2009

Solar energy solutions for rural Palestine

This article is one of a series featuring the 12 finalists for the World Challenge 09 - a global competition seeking to identify and reward projects and businesses which bring economic, social and environmental benefits to local communities through grassroots solutions. World Challenge 09 is run by BBC World News and Newsweek, in association with Shell.

World Challenge '09 finalist: Comet-ME
The goal of Comet-ME is to facilitate social and economical empowerment in the communities of South Mount Hebron through material support and capacity building. The core of the project is the provision of basic energy services for off-grid communities in a way that is both environmentally and socially sustainable. These energy services include the required hardware and the local capacity to maintain and install existing and additional systems. Although the funding and know-how come from outside of the community, the entire decision-making process is done by the community's local committee.

How does the project benefit the community?
The community benefits from the project in two main ways. Firstly, the provision of basic energy services for homes provides night time illumination and enables communication with the outside world. Children need light in order to study, and charging mobile phones often provides the only link to the outside world. Electric lighting replaces, in many cases, harmful and dangerous oil burning lamps. Secondly, the ability to refrigerate and store milk and dairy produce increases the potential for generating revenue and reducing the cycle of deep poverty. Refrigerating perishable foods reduces spending on foodstuffs, helping to improve the quality of the diet.

How does the project use environmental resources sustainably?
Providing systems that rely on renewable energy sources (sometimes replacing polluting oil burning lamps or diesel generators) helps to protect a particularly vulnerable environment. Both the indoor air quality and the carbon footprint of the communities are significantly improved.

Find out more at

BBC World Newsis broadcasting six 30-minute programmes profiling each of the World Challenge 09 finalists. The audience and readers are then invited to vote online - - for their favourite project or business from 28 September. To get involved you can also join World Challenge on Facebook:

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