US-based NRDC to empower Gujarat's women through solar-powered pumps

San Francisco : US-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) President Rhea Suh has announced a partnership with the Gujarat-based Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) to improve the lives of women and their families.


The NRDC and SEWA have supported thousands of women salt farmers in getting solar-powered pumps to replace diesel pumps in Gujarat.

This source of clean, cheap energy does three things, Suh told IANS.

"No diesel means there's a major drop in air pollution, and we have better health. With far less emissions, it helps address climate change. So it helps families move out of poverty," she said.

Her announcement came at a side event a day ahead of the Global Climate Action Summita┬┐s two-day opening plenary session that began in this California city on Thursday.

"We went from a pilot of a dozen solar pumps, to 200, to 400, to 700 and now we are expanding to 15,000," she said.

"We've helped thousands of families improve their lives."

"When we interviewed some of the members and asked, 'What are you doing with the money?' They said the're using it for the education for their children," an energetic Suh said.

"Like myself, they have young daughters, and now a new generation has access to a better, brighter future.

"This is a prime example on how we can all come together and help lift women and girls out of poverty while we take on climate change," she said.

The NRDC and SEWA are launching a new project on "Village Level Clean Energy Access" to increase access to clean energy for everything from solar-powered lights to cleaner cook stoves to more efficient appliances.

"We're starting with two pilot villages and plan to scale to 10 villages across India."

On the occasion, a new case study titled "Worth Their Salt" was also released.

"These families don't just benefit from clean energy in the salt fields. They will benefit from clean energy in all aspects of their lives, and that's what this new initiative is, true sustainable development," Suh, while poiting towards two community leaders from Gujarat who were invited at the project launch ceremony.

(Vishal Gulati is in San Francisco at the invitation of the Climate Trends to cover the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS). He can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)