Built on the vision and ethos of David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir on Israel’s outreach to Africa, enter Innovation: Africa (iA). A US based non-profit (with offices in New York, Israel, Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania) founded by Sivan Ya’ari, an Israeli social entrepreneur, who alongside her team, proves that simple solutions can have far-reaching effects on life’s most basic needs. This includes the poverty that has engulfed the majority of sub-Saharan Africa.
319 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa are without access to clean water. That is the entire population of the United States in 2014! It is estimated that by the year 2020, over 60% of Sub-Saharan Africans will still lack access to electricity. Meaning the majority of people will continue to suffer from water borne diseases, lack of education because children are forced to travel long distances with their mothers in search for water, complications during labour and delivery as mothers are being treated in the dark, improper nutrition due to lack of access to water needed to grow crops and finally, income generating businesses that produce economic development are non-existent. Imagine the day to day activities we are NOT able to do because of the lack of water and energy – the basic necessities of life to eat and drink, to cook, to bathe, to study, to give birth. With today’s technology and know-how, we can give them the basic necessities of life, community and economic development and so much more will become possible for these African families.
Says Ya’ari, “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the strong Jewish community, especially Rabbi Matthew and Lee Liebenberg and their synagogue, Claremont Wynberg Hebrew Congregation. I was also surprised to hear about the water scarcity that exists in Cape Town. Now back in Israel and if politics will allow, I am eager to look into sharing Israeli solar and water technologies to alleviate and improve these issues.”
Founded in 2008, iA uses Israeli solar, water and agricultural technologies to address the dire electricity needs of rural, poverty entrenched communities in Africa. iA installs light to power schools, medical clinics, orphanages and pumps clean water that is trapped beneath the ground in the aquifers. In the past 9 years, iA has completed over 150 projects empowering the lives of over 1 000 000 people in 7 countries: Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa, the DRC, Senegal, Ethiopia, and most recently Cameroon.
Innovation: Africa takes a unique approach to rural electrification, combining both cutting edge Israeli technology and grassroots community empowerment to create a sustainable transformative change in rural communities. The simple solution lies within a free source of energy: the sun. The same sun that is the source of the problem, drying the land of people living in rural African villages, can also be the source of the solution, providing the energy needed to help them escape from the cycle of poverty.
Simply put, the impact of clean water and solar energy completely transforms a village. From improved community health, the entrepreneurial spirit begins to flourish within the village, creating jobs and income. Children are strong enough to attend school, the community is empowered with healthier living conditions and the overall economic and educational opportunities are made possible with the addition of electricity. This two-part model has helped iA become recognised as a leader in the field of solar energy as a solution to poverty by the United Nations, and received the prestigious ‘Innovation Award’ by the UN for their use of an Israeli developed Remote Monitoring System. This technology is installed in each of their projects allowing iA’s team and donors to live track all data: energy consumed, energy produced and water flow output at any given time. Additionally, if something breaks, they receive live alerts in order to tend to the issue and repair the system immediately.
It is that simple. Within a matter of months, a starving and dying village can have life again. Water and solar energy can change the entire picture. Clean water to drink and cook with; drip irrigation to grow and harvest food; the surplus of food will then be sold in the market; the additional income will slowly bring these families out of the cycle of poverty. The impact is endless. All from the simple ability to harness the power of the sun to access the water beneath their feet.
Sivan speaks about a recent trip, saying that “We recently engaged and partnered with UNICEF to help refugees in Cameroon. It is a huge achievement proving that Israeli technologies, mainly around water pumping and electricity, have now been recognised by international organisations to improve the daily struggles and lives of thousands of people living in poverty.”
For more, please visit: iA’s website