Nick Kristof on Social Entrepreneurship

How to Change the World For folks with Times Select, Nicholas Kristof wrote a nice op-ed piece on social enterpreneurship: Do-Gooders With Spreadsheets

Excerpt (I’m hoping this falls reasonably under fair use):

When I travel around the world, I’m blown away by how these people are transforming lives. A growing number of the best and brightest university graduates in the U.S. and abroad are moving into this area (many clutching the book “How to Change the World,” a bible in the field).

It’s one of the most hopeful and helpful trends around. These folks aren’t famous, and they didn’t fly to Davos in first-class cabins or private jets, but they are showing that what it really takes to change the world isn’t so much wealth or power as creativity, determination and passion.

Sho’ nuff.

Thanks Rob K.

XelaTeco Update: January 2007

After completing the micro-hydroelectric project at the finca, XelaTeco went through a good deal of strategic planning regarding their future and the choices they want to make as a company. Here is a synopsis of the 4 days of meetings that occurred in early January 2007.

XelaTeco Mission

XelaTeco’s mission is to provide clean and green technologies to rural communities, individuals, and institutions that not only serve their basic needs but also help reduce the human impact on the environment. They strive to create products that are affordable, easily repairable and environmentally sound. They wish to have a significant impact of sustainable development within their community.

Products and Services

XelaTeco will continue to offer a range of products and services, from complex systems such as micro-hydroelectric installations to simpler products such as hydraulic ram pumps. A major goal for 2007 is to continue improving XelaTeco products to make them cheaper and better for the rural poor. Improvements of appearance, performance and documentation are slated for this year.

Products most ready for large roll-out:

Biodigesters
Water pumps
Water filters

Products still in development stages

Solar water heaters

Community Relations

Because of the history of Guatemala, some communities are initially cautious when they learn that XelaTeco is a private business rather than a non-profit. They feel that XT must have some ulterior motive for wanting to help them. This underscores the importance of community outreach as part of XelaTeco’s business model. Building trust within communities is essential to the overall success of the business.

Possibilities for the future

XelaTeco is currently exploring the possibility of offering classes in how to make some of their technologies. They are also looking into the distribution of other companies’ products (such as cheap photovoltaic panels ).

Things that make me happy

From the Toledo Blade

Public forum scheduled on biodigester use

BOWLING GREEN — The public is invited to take part in the first public forum held by a group formed to investigate the potential use of biodigesters to turn manure from large dairy farms into energy.

The Wood County Ag-Energy Task Force will hold the forum from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday on the fifth floor of the County Office Building in the courthouse complex.

The Wood County commissioners and Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) created the task force in an attempt to address some of the environmental concerns associated with the large-scale dairies that have been built or are planned in the county.

Officials are interested in alternatives to large manure storage ponds and technology that uses animal and food waste to generate electricity. [Emphasis added]

Reservations are not required for those wishing to attend the forum.

Oral or written comments are welcome.

Most Searched for Items on the AIDG Blog

Here are the most searched for items on the blog. I figured I would just put all the info in one place.

A Smattering of Green Stories from Across the World

After my previous semi-tirade (it was more a schmoo than a full rant) about poverty and the environment, I was curious about environmental stories from around the developing world. Here is a random sampling of stories that appeared this past week.

  1. Kenya: January 24, 2007 from The East African Standard (Nairobi)
    Environment Concerns Dominate Conference

    Environmental degradation has remained a major issue at the World Social Forum conference at Nairobi’s Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

  2. Namibia: January 26, 2007 from New Era (Windhoek)
    Citizens Take to Solar Power

    Consumers are turning to solar technologies and other energy-saving technologies in their numbers in a bid to save costs with ever rising electricity bills.

    [Note: solar power is not synonymous with photovoltaic. ;)]

  3. Uganda: January 25, 2007 from New Vision (Kampala)
    Tororo District Moves to Tackle Garbage Problem

    TORORO town will soon be garbage-free. The town authorities say they have devised a community-based strategy to solve the problem.

  4. Cameroon: January 25, 2007 from UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
    Oil Leak Shows Weaknesses in World Bank Pipeline, NGOs Warn

    Fishermen in the southern coastal town of Kribi are warily casting their nets after a leak in the massive Chad-Cameroon pipeline last week.

    “Our town lives on fishing and tourism. If more incidents like this or worse occur it is the economic future of the town that is threatened,” Kribi Mayor Gregoire Mba Mba told IRIN.

  5. India: Jan 26, 2007 from Business Line
    A biogas kitchen

    A Pune-based scientist has found an efficient way of producing and using biogas as cooking fuel.

  6. India: Jan 25, 2007 from Reuters Alertnet
    INTERVIEW-U.N. climate report will shock the world -chairman

    A forthcoming U.N. report on climate change will provide the most credible evidence yet of a human link to global warming and hopefully shock the world into taking more action, the panel’s chairman said on Thursday.

  7. China: January 26, 2007 from Xinhua News Agency

    China underlines people-centered policy, new development approach

    [Chinese State Councilor Hua Jianmin] said … the Chinese government will put efficiency before speed and seek “to build a resources-efficient and environment-friendly society.”

    By 2010, China will cut energy consumption of per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by about 20 percent, reduce emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent and increase the recycle rate of industrial solid waste to 60 percent, he said.

    As the rural population accounts for over half of China’s total population, he pledged the Chinese government “will continue to strive for coordinated development between rural and urban areas, and follow the principle of industry nurturing agriculture and cities supporting the countryside.”

  8. China: January 25, 2007 from Xinhua News Agency
    PetroChina branch fined 1 mln yuan for pollution

    China’s top environment watchdog has fined the Jilin Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of PetroChina, the maximum 1 million yuan (125,000 U.S. dollars), for seriously polluting the Songhua River.

Global Challenge: Matatus, Tap Taps, Microbuses, etc.

Chicken Bus in Guatemala

Every month the IHT’s Globalization blog does a Global Challenge where they ask their readers to propose solutions regarding various issues affecting the world poor. This month, it’s transport.

This month’s new challenge is transport. We’ve got some good ideas about housing people, but what about getting them to their jobs? Currently, developing cities are crawling with pollution-belching shuttle buses. They’re better than individual cars, but it’s not as though individual cars are an option for most workers in the world. Can we come up with something better, without forcing people to live in labor-camp-like factory complexes? And can we do it without massive investments in new infrastructure?

Post your solutions using the comments link. Go on. Throw your hat into the ring.

December: Water
January: Housing

AIDG/XelaTeco on NPR Thursday Feb 1 2007

AIDG and XelaTeco will be featured on NPR’s national and international news program, “Day to Day”, on Thursday February 1, 2007. The piece, recorded in November by tech journalist, Xeni Jardin, is one of a 5-part series on Guatemala. Audio for the program will be available at approx. 4:00 p.m. ET on the airdate.

NPR’s Day to Day Program

Part 1 of the series

Group Works to Identify Remains in Guatemala

Audio Slideshow
| Podcast

eatured NGO:Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) (Their website appears to be down at the moment. Traffic spike?)

Links of the Day: Quadir Prize

While writing up the top 10 posts list, I found all sorts of goodies.

Write an essay, score $25000

Quadir Prize: Annual Global Contest to Strengthen Bangladesh

Hosted by the Center for International Development at Harvard University

Propose an innovative and practical idea that would improve the lives of low- and middle- income people of Bangladesh (everyone except the top-third of the population in terms of annual income). Proposals will be judged by four Harvard University faculty members, in consultation with scholars familiar with Bangladesh.

This global contest is open to any individual in the world. Any compelling essay that establishes a way to improve the lives of low- and middle-income people in Bangladesh is acceptable for submission. The essays will be rated giving equal weights to a) innovative nature of the idea; b) clarity and cogency of argument and writing; c) ease and practicality of implementation; and d) the size of impact.

The author of the winning essay will be awarded the Anwarul Quadir Prize, USD $25,000.

Deadline for submission is June 30, 2007.

via Pienso.

Lookin’ for some hot stuff baby this evenin’

PBS program Now: The Heat Over Global Warming

Ahead of a major scientific report on global warming to be released next week, David Brancaccio talks with Laurie David, a producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and a major environmental activist.

Ms. David levels direct charges against those she feels stand in the way of her mission to alert the world about the dangers of climate change, and says America needs to lead the world in protecting the planet.

via Gristmill

Bring it!

BBC Climate Challenge

Pete was addicted to Ayiti: Cost of life (he wanted to get all the family members advanced degrees). Will he be wooed away by this game.

via Celsias

Chatting with the bigwigs

Davos Conversation

This Week’s Top 10 (1/21/07-1/27/07)

Here are my favorite appropriate technology, environment, health, climate change, international development or country specific blog posts (and articles) for the past week in no particular order.

  1. The Ripple Effect and the Water Crisis from World Changing
  2. Vinod Khosla’s Marshall Plan for rural India from How the World Works
    Speaking of the Marshall Plan. You know how everyone is always going on about developed countries allocating 0.7% of their GDP to international aid. Well here is a tasty factoid. In “End of Poverty”, Jeff Sachs writes:

    During the life of the Marshall Plan, the United States provided more than 1 percent of GNP, on average, from 1948 through 1952 to rebuild Western Europe, around ten times the current effort as a share of GNP. pg. 342, paperback edition.

  3. So it can be done. I knew it.

    Although noteworthy. Between its passage in 1947 and the program’s end in 1952, the Marshall Plan provided $13 billion for the European reconstruction. In today’s currency, that amounts to $88 billion. Or actually $88 billion in 1997 dollars [ref]

  4. Davos Diary, Wrap-Up: The Meeting is Flat from Foreign Policy Blog

    Perhaps the reason the World Economic Forum seemed a little flat this year was that, with less Hollywood and fewer crises dominating the agenda, it reverted to, well, a world forum on economic issues.

    Also of interest:
    Davos Diary, Day 2: An unlikely star
    A last gasp for Doha

  5. Stepping it Up at Sundance from It’s Getting Hot in Here (One day I’ll stop thinking of the next line of the song “so take off all your clothes”. Damn you, Nelly, Damn you!)

    [O]ver 1,000 middle school students and a crew of climate activists… braved the cold Utah weather to create an enormous piece of aerial art calling on Congress and the U.S.A. to Step it Up and take action on global warming.

    See also:
    Everything’s Cool (Funny Climate Change Documentary) | Clips from the film

  6. Further to AE Beacon’s Post, “Perspectives on NGOs Abroad” from Brown for Global Health
  7. Transnational Trash from Celsias

    Mounds of foul-smelling waste stand rotting in the cold air. The dark, smog-choked sky lowers menacingly and the river runs slowly, a black tide of toxic sludge. Sandwich boxes carrying the labels of British supermarket chains poke through the dumps; crumpled pizza wrappers and plastic bags blanket the streets. Working in the middle of it all are children, some as young as four, sifting though the waste with their bare hands.

    See also Recycled Life (Documentary Short, Recent Academy Award Nominee)

  8. THE key to poverty reduction, or not from Private Sector Development Blog
    Probably not THE key. Darn complex systems, being all multifactorial and stuff.
  9. Global Knowledge Database: This month’s winners, and transport from IHT’s Globalization Blog
  10. Green America: Waking up and catching up from the Economist
    “Belatedly, and for many reasons, America is embracing environmentalism”
  11. Understanding Migration As A Very Human Story from the Guatemala Solidarity Network
    Also in yesterday’s New York Times: Migrants Stream Into South Mexico, by James C. McKinley Jr.

Bonus:
A little cuteness: Love giant pandas? Name them from China Daily