The Ashden Awards are green energy awards for projects which tackle climate change and improve quality of life through the development of sustainable energy at a local level. The prize winners are inspirational in range and innovation--these are rural, community-based schemes that solve serious local problems in a sustainable manner. A Tanzanian housing group devised a way to fire high quality bricks for houses using rice husks, cotton waste, sawdust and coffee husks instead of wood. In areas already deforested and poor, improving the quality of housing without using wood is critical. A Bangladeshi company has installed nearly 65,000 'solar home systems', bringing electric light and power to rural households which used to depend on kerosene for lighting. They are also setting up a network of training centres that will teach hundreds of local women to be solar technicians.
In rural Mexico, 95% of households (25 million people) cook tortillas and household food on open wood fires. This leads to eye diseases and respiratory problems from the smoke. The Patsari Stove, built in 2 hours, and developed with local users, is a fuel-efficient stove that uses 60% less wood and reduces indoor air pollution by 70%. GIRA, the NGO, has measured a 10% improvement in a respiratory health index of women using the stove after only one month. Since 2000, GIRA has worked with 100 small stove builders to install 3,500 Patsari stoves in homes in the Mexican highlands plus 40 for tortilla-making businesses. :: Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy via: Gallon Environment Letter