Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) and FSD - Saving energy, growing micro-economies in India

In India, over 260 million live in poverty. The poor are plagued by high levels of unemployment, low levels of income, and significant debt. Many are trapped in this financial position. They rarely can offer collateral against their loans and therefore are continually denied access to formal credit institutions. Even when loans are awarded, high interest rates and unrealistic repayment schedules leave families unable to escape the poverty cycle.

FSD partners with locally run organizations in Udaipur and Jodhpur who work with women to create financial "self-help groups." These groups enable women to build savings and credit, and form linkages with banks. The organizations also coordinate meetings to encourage women to participate in management level activities and provide workshops that focus on skills training. Microentrerprises arise from these trainings.

FSD also supports programs that educate the poor about local bank policies and works to establish revolving funds for those in need. With continuing help and financial support, these micro-enterprise/micro-finance NGOs can empower the poor through education, training, and micro-loans that will drastically improve their financial possibilities.

One of the projects FSD and our partner, the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), have been working together is to reduce dependence on fuel wood for the rural population. The project is just the first of a wide range of sustainable energy technologies to be built and sold by local entrepreneurs. Efficient cookstoves can reduce cooking fuel wood needs up to 65% while also providing a variety of other positive health, economic, social, and environmental impacts for the community in and around the Sanctuary.

FSD intern Carlyn Johnson worked around the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in the Rajasthan state of India -- and led a pilot program to implement 30 fuel-efficient cookstoves as a potent energy-saving measure as well as an income-generating project for these villagers. 

It is a Win-Win -- Preserving biodiversity while providing micro-entrepreneurial opportunities.