2015 Honoree: Innovation: Africa

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Primary Area of Impact: Healthcare, Safe Water
Geographic Areas Served: Sub-Sarahan Africa
Year Founded: 2008
Website: www.innoafrica.org

Overview

Innovation: Africa is a non-profit organization that brings Israeli innovation to African villages. Our mission is to engage it top-quality, sustainable, scalable and renewable infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus far, we have focused primarily on solar and agricultural work.
Since our founding in 2008, we have completed over 80 solar and agricultural projects in Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. We provide schools and medical clinics with solar power to offer evening study, adult education, well-lit nighttime medical care and refrigeration for lifesaving medicines and vaccines. Our solar powered water pumps provide over 20,000 liters of clean water a day, and our drip irrigation systems provide a source of food and income for farmers and their families.
Over 675,000 people have been impacted by our projects, and more than 350,000 vaccines have been issued from our solar refrigerators, protecting children against preventable disease. On average, the number of births registered at our clinics rises by 400% after solar installation, and graduation rates at our solar powered schools have as much as tripled within a single year.

Accomplishments

  • 2012 – Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and SocialCouncil
  • 2013 – received a UN Innovation Award
  • 2013 – Social Media Leadership Award by Knowledge@Wharton,
  • 350,000 vaccines have been issued from our solar-powered refrigerators to children that previously were not immune to diseases like measles, polio, and tuberculosis.
  • 80 solar projects that have benefitted nearly 700,000 people since 2008

Social Challenge

Fifty percent of students in the developing world go to schools without electricity according to the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Most don’t have light at home either. They can’t read, do homework or study for national exams without the use of expensive candles and kerosene lamps that come with the risk of smoke inhalation, eye-strain, and fire. The same is true for their teachers, many of whom turn down rural teaching positions because of this reality.

Additionally, according to Practical Action’s Poor People’s Energy Outlook 2013,¬†30% of medical clinics in sub-Saharan Africa do not have electricity. These facilities are nearly invisible at night to those who need them. Midwives can barely see the women who come in for maternity services; clinic staff struggles to diagnose and treat patients needing urgent care. These clinics can’t even store vaccines to serve their communities, as the same report mentioned above also states that nearly half of all vaccines delivered to the developing world spoil due to lack of refrigeration.

According to the International Energy Agency, there are 1.3 billion people today without access to electricity, and 599 million of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. Without electricity, not only do they struggle with the challenges above, but they are unable to pump clean water from below ground. At best, they use hand pumps that often break down, and often have to walk for long distances and wait in line just to bring water home to their families. At worst, they have no water. Women spend their days searching for dirty water to bring home to their families – water that they know could make them sick, but they have no other choice. They have little to drink, and even less to irrigate, leading to hunger, malnutrition, and an unending cycle of poverty.

For us, energy is not a goal in and of itself. It is a means to an end-a tool to improve the caliber of rural healthcare and education, to provide rural people with clean water, food security and economic growth.