Nonprofit solar provider earns $1 million UN grant

Updated: 2015-09-15 10:44

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York(China Daily USA)

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Nonprofit solar provider earns $1 million UN grant

Brendan Riley (left) of BYD Co Ltd accepts congratulations Monday from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for BYD's special award in New York. PAUL WELITZKIN / CHINA DAILY

A non-profit organization devoted to making solar power affordable and accessible so it can provide reliable electricity during childbirth in developing countries was awarded a $1 million grant on Monday.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) and the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) presented the grant to We Care Solar, a nonprofit based in Berkeley, California.

"The United Nations is shining a light on an area that has all too often been overlooked – the lack of reliable electricity in health facilities," Dr. Laura Stachel, the co-founder and executive director of We Care Solar, said at a ceremony at the United Nations in New York.

We Care Solar designs solar-powered systems that fit into a yellow hand-held suitcase that furnishes off-grid power to meet maternity needs, especially in rural, underdeveloped countries.

A woman's risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes is 1 in 160 in developing countries compared with 1 in 2,300 in the developed world. In sub-Saharan Africa, the risk is 1 in 38.

In 2014, UN-DESA and CEFC established a sustainable-energy initiative that called for an annual donation of $1 million to encourage helpful practices for building energy-sustainability capacity in developing countries.

For the UN, sustainable energy is a key priority, as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it connects economic growth, social equity and a healthy environment.

"This is a very important issue for me – while growing up in Korea I studied by candlelight and kerosene lamp. Our goal is to provide universal access to electricity by 2030," Ban said.

Nothing that 1 in 5 lack access to electricity in the world, Dr Patrick Ho, deputy chairman and secretary-general of CEFC, said access to power should be a basic universal right.

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