Swayam Shikshan Prayog, a Maharashtra-based NGO has bagged the UN climate award for its efforts to help women establish as clean energy crusaders.  Solar cooking system is safe as solar-based stoves do away with the perils of indoor air pollution.

Varsha Pawar, a native of Osmanabad district in Maharashtra was initially selling solar cook stoves and lamps in her vicinity a year ago. Today,she went on to become the sarpanch of Tirth Khurd and  got engaged herself in the campaign on the benefits of spreading clean energy across her village and to the other parts in Tuljapur.

Pawar, one of the 1,010 proven women entrepreneurs, living in the hamlets of Maharashtra and Bihar, have scripted a successful business story of selling solar appliances to rural households.   Swayam Shikshan Prayog(SSP), a Pune-based NGO works with a mission of helping women emerge as clean energy entrepreneurs. Its untiring efforts in creating climate leaders have catapulted it to the status of winning the UN Climate Award in the current year.

The clean energy project is going to be one amongst 13 initiatives that will be earmarked at the upcoming climate summit to take place in Marrakech, Morocco, November.

Making climate-friendly

According to Prema Gopalan, a co-promoter of SSP, women entrepreneurs are now providing support to rural populace to take necessary steps to enhance the quality of environment, use clean energy products and services, revitalize community water sources and prop up agriculturally best methods so as to enhance their long-term toughness to climate change,

Elaborating on the project, Gopalan said that the project is subject to market-centric approach and can be implemented at everyplace. He added that big companies can introduce their clean energy products into rural markets. The significance of clean energy products is widely prevalent and women can be utilized as entrepreneurs, making it a sustainable solution in India and other places.

Utilization of typical energy in Indian villages is vastly polluting. Cooking is fuelled largely through waste biomass and wood and kerosene oil is used to illuminate homes. Women and children spend much of time on acquiring fuel for cooking, while wood and burning kerosene lead to toxic indoor air pollution and discharges greenhouse gases that trigger global warming.

Internal air contamination

Indoor air pollution resulted in 4.3 million deaths across the world in 2012 in homes that rely on biomass for cooking or coal, out of a total of 7 million deaths impacted by exposure to air pollution, as per estimates by the WHO. Lamps and cook stoves supported by sunlight aid in overcoming this hazard.

Solar lamps are a good alternative source to rural households. Broadening the theme of clean energy and creating supportive market for it among rural populace are the dual issues to be confronted with. Sustaining the interest of women who show willingness to invest in energy space and paucity of working capital from financial institutions are the other issues to be looked into.

Impressive growth

Today the project has witnessed an active participation of more than 4 million people across four states in India. In a systematic way, SSP through its women entrepreneurs has made many clean energy products such as biogas cooking units, solar lanterns, vermin-composting, and organic farming and efficient irrigation technology accessible to those who  are living in communities. in order to tackle climate change. All these go a long way in saving nearly 100 tones of firewood per day thereby reducing greenhouse gas emission too.

We are striving to give a boost to the project to enhance the concept of clean energy. We set eyes on giving impetus to women entrepreneurship alongside the clean energy value so that we can realize the ambition of giving more green business leaders to the nation”, said Gopalan, the co-founder of SSP.


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