ROME, JANUARY 4 – An extraordinary project is about to come together in southern Lebanon thanks to the efforts of the environmental organization Greenpeace: a Cooperative organization made up exclusively by women will produce and sell agricultural produce across the country. But, as most enterprises in Lebanon where machinery is powered by outdated, inefficient and polluting generators, the Cooperative faces the chronic issue of insufficient electrical supply. The good news is that the Cooperative’s all-women team has decided to shift gears and launch a veritable power supply revolution.
The solution was right above their heads: Lebanon has more than 300 days of sunshine a year and solar power could meet the entire country’s energy demands from a 100% renewable source.
With this premise in mind, a month ago, Greenpeace assembled a small group of individuals to inspire, and most importantly to train other groups of entrepreneurs, to launch businesses that are environmentally sustainable; a group of 12 locals, including Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian nationals, trained by Greenpeace, will install the solar panels that will power the Cooperative’s project.
Such initiatives are gaining ground; just a few days ago, a 40 kW solar power system was turned on in Lampedusa as the result of a crowd-funding draw called “Let’s Turn on the Sun” and similar projects have cropped up in Rhodes in Greece, in Raleigh in North Carolina, and in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Volunteers report that “we see people’s faces light up when they realize that this technology is within their reach! But we need the support of many people to succeed and each contribution brings the cooperative, the women who work there and the community, one step closer to energetic independence”.
Greenpeace, with the help of volunteers, activists and researchers, will train local communities to reap the benefits of the region’s remarkable resources. As a first step, the project will carry out an “energetic diagnosis” to determine the community’s energetic needs, then a number of measures will then be taken to streamline and reduce consumption, and finally, the solar panels will be installed on the rooftop housing the Cooperative.
Lebanon is also witness to another impressive project promoted by Save the Children. In 2015, the NGO participated in the EXPO in Milan, which tackled the theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, by setting up a Save the Children Village. During the six-month period of the universal exposition, the Village exposed thousands of visitors to the devastating impact of malnutrition, especially in children, through the use of interactive installations and sensory experience and presented simple solutions capable of countering the plight of world hunger.
Today, the Village continues to assist children in a different form and location: the wood and bamboo structure used as a stand, reminiscent of the many villages in which the NGO every day, has found new life in Lebanon where the materials were re-assembled to build a school. Operative since September, the school also welcomes Syrian refugee children on a daily basis in what has become a large, informal assistance center. (@OnuItalia)