Israel21c: Israel sustainable energy powers rural Africa

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Schools in 71 villages have light and water thanks to Ya’ari.

Schools in 71 villages have light and water thanks to Ya’ari.

By Ruthie Blum – Israel21c

Sivan Ya’ari’s non-profit Innovation: Africa brings sustainable Israeli technologies to power rural African villages.

Picture a remote African village where women and children spend hours every day finding, collecting and carrying water and wood back to their homes. Envisage these villagers standing in long lines for the privilege of digging into muddy holes with their hands to scoop dirty water into Jerry cans, and later, searching for twigs and branches with which to build fires.

It was just such a sight that Sivan Ya’ari could not get out of her mind after visiting Africa as part of her job at an international clothing company.

A few years later, her master’s degree in international energy management and policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs led her to an internship at the United Nations Development Program.

From here, it was not a far leap to establish Innovation: Africa (originally called “Jewish Heart for Africa”), a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring sustainable Israeli technologies to rural African villages.

In summer 2012, the organization was granted special consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. On November 1, 2013, it won the Innovation Award at the UN Global South-South Development Expo in Nairobi.

Since its establishment in New York in 2008 with funding from foundations, philanthropies and individuals, Innovation: Africa has transformed 71 famine-ridden villages in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda and South Africa into budding communities with hope for the future.