Solar Solutions to health and enviornmental risks

by thetanvi

When I went up into the Himalayas, to a remote village, I stayed with a Navdanya coordinator, Shravan’s uncle. I called him my uncle. The family took extremely good care of me, the girls, Balber Chacha’s daughters, teased me and the boys ran around more oblivious to our inclusions in the household.

Ganga and Shravan’s Grandfather, Balber’s father was an older man, and since Carrie had last visited a month prior, he was in much better health. He’s passed away since I last visited. A neighboring village has burned down due to a kitchen fire. He laid by the fire, coughing, weak, ill. In every kitchen I saw in the village, a fire burned wood in the cow dung stove, the women squatted on the floor to cook in the dark kitchen rooms. Smoke filled the cold room as everyone gathered around the fire on the floor. Chachi (auntie) carefully spooned the meals, made from scratch daily by her as well as tending to the animals and the fields, dividing into haphazard metal dishes and bowls for large family. No one serves themselves, this would be rude and greedy. You are given as much can be spared. Food is not plentiful nor wasted. Countless times have I seen children running around disobediently avoiding the task of eating their vegetables or meal- I was a prime example of this- not one of the dozens of children I encountered ran from food, they waited patiently for their share and prompty consumed it.  In the Himalayas’, rain has become sporadic, and the dependable annual monsoon has failed two years in a row. Mounting evidence places the blame of the receding glaciers and altered precipitation and could patterns in the vast Himalayan ranges to climate chaos caused by greenhouse gases. Rivers run dry throughout the Indian subcontinent, ordinarily fed by the glacier melt water. One third of the world’s population depends on the water of those rivers. They don’t have the modern infrastructure we do, most bathe and fetch water directly from the rivers and wells fed by the glaciers.

The village of Sankri/Saur is located with in Govind National Forest. The dwellers, however, cut the branches off the trees to use as fuel to heat water and cook food. Burning the wood, and deforestation associated, both contribute to greenhouse gasses trees function as a tremendously effective carbon sink.

What possible alternative could exist to their burning firewood fuel to feed themselves, thus undermining not only their own agricultural capacity but also the water supply for the huge nation of India, and the global climate?

To me it the solution jumps out at me as obvious. Harnessing the sun’s energy and heat. Only with donations can villagers have access to this locally produced (with local resources) alternative.