Monday, March 28, 2011

Will Teaching Solar Alleviate Poverty in Developing Countries?

Discover home solar today is a message that should reach the developing countries. Efforts in this direction initiated by the local government and non profit organizations worldwide are mainly directed to the adult population for faster results. The efforts however, fell short of expectations so that these countries continue to be mired in poverty. No doubt there are difficult hindrances which can not be overcome at present.

This article will attempt to recommend teaching solar to children in grade school with ages ranging from 10 to 15 years to augment the programs now being implemented in these developing countries. Teaching solar is based on a premise that community problems like safe water, deforestation and food preservation are difficult to solve and need long range solutions.

The long range solutions should start with very young people.The young students should be taught solar in general with special emphasis on its thermal applications on the identified problems. The things that the students will learn are relevant, affordable, implementable and badly needed by the community.

These thermal applications should include solar cooker, solar pasteurizers and distillers and solar food dryer.. Adoption of these solar thermal devices will impact on health problems with safe drinking water, tree deforestation and preservation of excess harvest for the lean months ahead. 
The above topics should be included in the grade school curriculum like gardening and home economics. Because the technology is simple, a 15 year old boy can easily understand and build  solar cooker, distiller or dehydrator from locally available materials. Other aspects of solar energy can also be incorporated in the teaching.

Why should teaching solar emphasize thermal applications?

Consider these facts and observations:

1.       The World Bank states, "Despite decades of effort...and $30 billion of water investment in developing countries each year…an estimated 10,000 people…die every day from water and excreta-related diseases. Thousands more suffer debilitating illnesses. The tragedy is that these deaths and illnesses are entirely preventable.”
2.       1.2 billion people do not have access to drinking water free from disease-causing microbes.
  1. 80% of all illnesses in the developing world result directly from waterborne pathogens.
  2.  Approximately one billion people suffer from diseases contracted by consuming contaminated water.
  3. 50% of hospitalizations in developing countries result from waterborne disease.
6.       Research has found that 36% of the world's fuel wood needs (or 350 million tones of wood per year, according to UNICEF) could be replaced by solar box cookers, saving 500 kg of wood per family per year, equivalent to millions of trees.
7.       The search for fuel consumes the time, energy and health of women and their children. As local wood supplies grow scarce, women risk spinal column damage and uterine prolapsed from carrying heavier loads over longer distances.
8.       Half the inhabitants of Earth cook over wood fire. Nearly half the world's wood supply is used as fuel. But there's not enough of it to go round -- more than 2 billion people now face shortages of fuel wood.
9.       Nutritionally, dried food is ranked by the USDA as better than canning, just under freezing.
10.   Solar food preservation is a simple low cost way to preserve food that might otherwise spoil. It is one of the oldest ways of preserving the harvest, and lets you save food without using electricity.

The need of developing countries is immediate relief from the burden of cooking, deforestation, access to safe drinking water and simple ways of preserving excess harvest. Efforts must continue and be maintained in these directions.

But we should not discount long range solutions which would provide effective and long lasting relief. The long range solution include teaching solar must be studied carefully to fit a particular developing country.

Will teaching solar alleviate poverty and why thermal applications? Yes, solar will help ease poverty because of practicality of its application and simplicity of implementation. Thermal uses should be emphasized because of its affordability and availability to everyone.

We invite you to visit our Informative Solar Article page for more practical tips, simplified application guide and established solar benefits.

Author’s Box
 Jacinto Demonteverde, Jr., the owner, is a strong advocate of solar power adoption. He writes practical articles to keep established and prospective solar users well informed. Visit him at: You are welcome to republish or reprint this article free of charge provided the content remains unchanged including the Author’s Box. No permission is needed.

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