The Path to the COVID Recovery Is Paved With Renewable Energy
By Corina Murafa
Harish Hande is an engineer and social entrepreneur working with underserved communities. He is the co-founder of SELCO whose interventions have impacted more than 800,000 poor households across 6 Indian states. We caught up with him a couple of weeks ago to reflect on the relevance of sustainable energy during the Covid pandemic and after.
Harish, tell us about your work.
SELCO has been working to open energy access in India since 1994. We work on democratizing services like education and health using sustainable energy as a catalyst. As soon as Covid took over we pushed to adapt our sustainable energy work to the new reality by redesigning parts of hospitals, and looking at the energy efficiency of respirators for example. As Covid goes from urban areas to rural areas, how will rural areas be able to cope? Climate change and Covid have a very close relationship. The poor are not responsible for either, but they will bear the biggest brunt. This is where we need to step in.
How you are innovating in your Covid response right now in India?
India is in a severe lock down. Thankfully, in certain areas SELCO is considered an essential service. For example, we had a webinar with a school for the disabled recently. There are 300 kids in this disability school. How do they make sense of social distancing? It’s not possible so instead we asked, “How do we make the school itself, socially-distanced so nobody enters the school or infects any of the kids?” We are developing these types of protocols so people can adapt, while simultaneously looking at, for example, what a solar-powered Braille-teaching methodology might look like.
Photo courtesy of andreas160578.