Healthy Watersheds for Clean Energy
SUMMARY: Healthy Watersheds for Clean Energy symbiotically addresses poverty and deforestation by mobilizing communities in remote northern Nicaragua to monitor and police their forests and to practice ecologically-sound agriculture by working with them to install non-polluting, low-impact micro-hydro electrical generation facilities, showing them that the electricity and clean water is dependent on the vitality of the forests in their watershed.
PROBLEM SPACE: Green Empowerment and the Association of Rural Development Workers-Benjamin Linder (ATDER-BL) seek to simultaneously address the challenges posed by natural resource depletion and rural poverty by integrating forest and watershed conservation initiatives with renewable energy provision. A microhydro plant provides electricity to off-grid communities, which not only improves livelihoods but also provides tangible incentives for protecting the water source through the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices and the establishment of forest reserves.
As we have seen in northern Nicaragua this holistic approach both improves community wellbeing and restores and conserves critical ecosystem habitat. While these impacts are most acute at the local level, they also demonstrate a replicable but adaptable model for other rural communities seeking to address basic needs with clean energy while improving environmental stewardship. Furthermore, the tremendous biodiversity and carbon sinks contained within Northern Nicaragua’s remaining rainforests make these community-based initiatives modest but important contributors to mitigating climate change at the global level through reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The expansion and replication of this model would only amplify this effect.
SOLUTION: To address the dual challenges of rural poverty and environmental degradation, our holistic approach combines renewable energy provision with community-based forest and watershed conservation in Northern Nicaragua, demonstrating a model for sustainable development applicable around the world.
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