A Look Back on the Week

To help our readers better digest the prolific number of posts that appear throughout a given week, the ThinkChange India team will be providing weekly recaps on what posts garnered the most interest and also we will highlight some older posts that we feel deserve to be featured again.

From Sunday to Sunday — The Top Posts of the Week

  1. Santosh wrote on the development of a new social capital exchange. (62 views)
  2. A post by Prerna on For Love of Water (FLOW) enjoyed the second spot this week. (40 views)
  3. Shital’s reporting on women barefoot solar engineers also got much attention this week. (31 views)

Highlighted Jobs, Internships and Other Opportunities

  1. SKS Hyderbad is soliciting applications for a summer intern and Program Director. (31 views)
  2. An internship for Source for Change also gained noticeable attention this week. (30 views)
  3. Another post on an essay competition on climate change and health also received some focus by our readers this week. (29 views)

Reaching into the Archives

In this section we will link back to an older post that we believe deserves to be featured one more time.

Fresh off of the launch of ThinkChange India, Vinay wrote an Op-Ed on the value of having both arrogance and humility with regard to being a social entrepreneur. The post originally was published on March 3, 2008. (106 views)

We hope that these weekly recaps will help you better navigate our site and to make it even easier for our readers to keep up with everything exciting that is going on in India. Also, as always, we encourage all of you to keep commenting and participating as that is the best feedback to make sure we are doing a good job.

Best,

The ThinkChange India Team

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Women Barefoot Solar Engineers

We highlighted Barefoot College in a previous post, and they are in the news again as four illiterate women from Hyderabad are now fulfilling the role of solar power engineers. An Asia Sentinel article features the unlikely group that received training from Barefoot College’s Rural Technology Park and went on to complete tasks such as solar powering 124 village households, launching the first Women Barefoot Solar Engineers Association, and installing a solar power plant in the technology park. From the article:

Indeed in a country where 23 percent of 586,000 villages and 56 percent of 138 million households do not have electricity, Chennamma and her colleagues are literally bringing hope to hundreds. Analysts say that electrification in some remote areas, especially in distant and hilly terrain, is usually not technically or economically viable. Moreover, transmission and distribution costs of electricity in the country are prohibitive, making it unaffordable for about a quarter of India’s 1.3 billion people, many of who subsist on 20 cents a day, to afford electricity.

According to Dr. Vinayakam (the project director), the experiment has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of training the poor to provide a vital development system. “It also underscores the fact,” he said, “that these people can be successfully entrusted with the management, control and ownership of such a sophisticated technology.”

More on Barefoot College’s solar power projects can be found here.

Local Solutions to Local Water Problems

The UN General Assembly assigned 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation as part of its Water for Life campaign, and World Water Day is on March 20. With that in mind, Barefoot College’s approach to water is worth highlighting.

Barefoot College is an organization based in Rajasthan that believes solutions to rural problems lie within the community and that also encourages practical knowledge and skills rather than paper qualifications through a learning-by-doing process of education. The organization released a report titled The Barefoot Approach: Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting last month.

Rainwater harvesting collects rain and distributes water through underground tanks to store drinkable water for months at a time. According to Barefoot College, this traditional approach has been used for hundreds of years. Barefoot College advocates its simple approach above all:

The success of Barefoot initiatives in rainwater harvesting and well recharging as part of the collective efforts of rural communities in India have demonstrated the need to reintroduce traditional, low-cost technologies that communities can implement themselves.

Using this local, low-cost approach allows communities to spend time on productive activities rather than collecting water on a daily basis, especially in drought-ridden areas. Particularly interesting is that the project is internally dependent, allowing for more sustainable measures to innovative answers:

The Barefoot approach draws upon local knowledge and skills, and involves local people to administer, supervise and finance their own community development. This helps to reduce dependency on external aid and creates a sense of local ownership in managing the local water supply.