Blog of Eva Wissenz

10 Km from Civilization - the GoSol Solution

Posted Tuesday 27 October 2015 by Eva Wissenz.

We are very honoured and happy to publish this blog post from Gabriel Ojobo, Country Manager at SF Green Resources Nig. Ltd., our partner for our next mission in Nigeria.

"Taking a ride from Jos, the capital of Plateau State in Nigeria to Jebbu Bassa is just a fifteen minute drive and from Jebbu Bassa to Zagun and Binchi communities of Bassa Local Government Area is twenty minutes.

What is interesting here is that Jebbu Bassa doubles as the host community for the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army and headquarters of Bassa Local Government Area. Compare Jebbu Bassa and Binchi communities which are just 10 km apart and you will see a vast difference. For example, Jebbu Bassa is connected to the electricity grid and they enjoy a reasonable amount of electricity while Binchi community, though connected to electricity grid, rarely has electricity.

More so, Jebbu Bassa has a well connected road network from Jos but from Jebbu Bassa to Binchi, a tarred road has been a dream for many generations as expressed bitterly by the locals. For me, this is the least of the problems confronting this isolated community. What really got me dumbfounded and stunned is the untold daily suffering of the farmers and women caused by lack of irrigation water in their surroundings.

Rural Farmer in Binchi watering with gallon.

I discovered that the Binchi farmers have to travel long distances to fetch and carry water gallons on their heads at night on a regular basis. The most bizarre part of this story is that these farmers have to leave home after supper to go to dry streams and dig deep to access water which they use to irrigate their farms. It is so difficult to comprehend this situation if one is not on the field to witness it. Farming is the only occupation and means of survival for the people of these communities and they have successfully passed this profession from generations past to the present one.

I heard stories of how farmers plant around February with the hope that the raining season will help to irrigate their farms but only to end up disappointed and suffer investment losses due to irregular rainfall that has been the order for some years now globally. This can be linked directly to the negative impact of climate change which the Binchi farmers do not even know exists due to illiteracy and lack of information on how to cope. And when you talk about inputs, the sorrow of these farmers is just unimaginable! Access to important quality inputs like fertilizer, pesticides, seeds etc. is virtually difficult. In the words of Reverend Seth Amadik, a passionate native of Binchi community who took us to this place, ¨I was born here but presently working for the church in Jos. My people have continued to languish in these hardships since before I was born several decades ago and yet no changes till this day¨ he said with a sour expression on his face.

Another touching aspect of this story is the domestic energy challenge facing the communities even though it is a common problem in Nigeria as a whole. Women regularly criss-cross the length and breadth of surrounding bushes, mountains by foot, sometimes as far as 5 to 7 kilometers just to fetch firewood for cooking warm food. Valuable and productive time is being wasted on sourcing firewood and water needed for basic chores with very little or none available for any money earning activities. Their health suffers from long time inhalation and accumulating effects of staying in smoky conditions while cooking.

Woman fetching firewood in Binchi.

The tale of these communities is thought-provoking and needs urgent redress with a solution like GoSol solar technology. GoSol brings an instant solution to the vicious energy poverty that has bedeviled communities like Binchi for decades and handicapped their progress towards better livelihood. Nigeria generates around 6,000MW of electricity presently leaving a shortfall of about 194,000MW needed for sufficiency. Fossil fuels like kerosene, cooking gas and epileptic electricity remain scarce and expensive to use, putting deforestation pressure on our already destroyed environment. The alternative is clean energy that is safe, cheap, mobile, environmental friendly and efficient. GoSol solar technology combines all these attributes and also empowers entrepreneurs, rural farmers to independently secure the energy they need for their activities.

Finally, I wrote this story to invoke a conscious re-awakening in the way we see our neighbors and environment. My wish is that we will have it somewhere in our heart to do something about this situation which I know is common all over Nigeria and beyond."

More about energy poverty in Nigeria here and here.

Rexel Foundation becomes a Sponsor

Posted Wednesday 16 September 2015 by Eva Wissenz.

We are proud to announce that the Rexel Foundation for a Better Energy Future is reinforcing their support for the initiative by becoming a sponsor.

Learn more about their commitment to social entrepreneurship in our earlier blog post presenting them.

Rexel Foundation (Paris) is supporting us

Posted Monday 27 April 2015 by Eva Wissenz.

We are honored and happy to count the Rexel Foundation among our partners for the campaign and to be part of the Rexel Foundation Platform for social enterprises.

In the context of the Europeanization of its support platform for social entrepreneurship in the field of energy, the Rexel Foundation is very pleased to welcome and support a Finnish social enterprise. By providing solar concentrator and free construction guide, Gosol comes to strengthen the ambitious project of the platform to fight against fuel poverty and improve access to energy efficiency for all. Rexel Foundation

The Rexel Foundation is focused on energy efficiency supporting social entrepreneurs and solidarity. On their platform, they are connecting projects, entrepreneurs, sponsors, NGO, etc. and provide guidance. Created in 2013 and partnering with Ashoka, their target is to promote access to energy efficiency for all.

Presentation of the Foundation:

Presentation of the Platform:

SOS Energie, Burkina Faso

Posted Sunday 26 April 2015 by Eva Wissenz.

Vincent Nikiema, the President of SOS Energie Burkina Faso (SOSEB), is happy to support our campaign and we hope we can start together some field operation very soon.

SOS Energie was created in 2008 following a simple observation: in Burkina Faso 90% of deforestation is due to the use of wood as domestic fuel. The respiratory diseases caused by this situation are in part due to the use of in-house wood ovens, and are the fourth most often cause of mortality in our developing countries.

With this distressing observation and the need for economic vitality, SOS Energie Burkina Faso has the mission to develop alternative and sustainable solutions for cooking to save the trees... and it starts by using the right energy for every day life tasks.

SOS Energie won the UN Seed Award in 2010 and a National Energy Award, in 2012, for a briquettes project.

... Read whole article

Jeunes Verts Togo

Posted Wednesday 22 April 2015 by Eva Wissenz.

The Jeunes Verts Togo are a youth association created in December 2009 with currently more than 500 members (students, youths, and women from the villages).

Esso-kl’nam Pedessi, Project Leader, is enthusiastic about our solar project: "We love the idea of free construction guides and it would be so great to provide an efficient solar equipment at lower prices to vulnerable and poor populations."

With his team, they work for a general awareness on the relationship of young people and women, and their environment, the need to act for actual preservation and protection of this fragile environment, the duty to protect the environment against any kind of abuse of the international financial and political sphere. It seeks to take concrete action towards disadvantaged groups, for greater awareness of them and to be better for these populations so that they can more easily participate in efforts to protect the environment. The Young Greens - Togo seek to spread awareness in the public on major social, ecological and environmental issues, to promote inter and intra-generational equity, strengthen the capacity of various segments of the population in decision-making for sustainable development.

The association puts also the emphasis on alternatives such as permaculture, organic farming and they seek to develop and democratize renewable energy alternatives and new technologies. Additionally and with a beautiful coherence, the Young Greens Togo seek to work together with communities to preserve their land and their sociocultural fabrics; the organization opposes any form of land grabbing for commercial purposes, and intends to take action against such practices to protect sovereignty. The Young Greens also oppose any move to grab traditional ancestral knowledge by the mechanisms of patenting.

Taking place annually since 2010, they have organized the Film Festival on Climate project (film screenings, exhibition of works of art, a football tournament, green party, sanitation efforts, tree planting, community training schools…).
They are also involved in the Women Buissiness Green, a project to support women financially in their income-generating activities.

A bit more about the environment situation in Togo :
In Togo, the environmental sector has to deal with the difficult socio-political context and economic stresses that have affected the country during the past two decades. Accentuated by energy, global food prices and the financial crisis, Togo’s profound social and environmental impacts are marked by the worsening world hunger, the pressure on natural resources and dwindling investments in the management of natural resources in the country.

The series of consequent floods to climate change experienced by Togo since 2007 has been revealing notorious shortcomings in the control and prevention of risks and disasters related to the environment. The state of play on the environment and natural resources on the continental scale shows undeniably that environmental degradation is increasing and is manifested today by factors such as disturbance of ecosystems, exhaustion natural resources, soil erosion and coastal zone, loss of biodiversity, contamination of food chains, pollution of the atmosphere, water and soil, degradation of the living environment, recurrent flooding in cities. The problems of global order, such as greenhouse gas emissions and its corollaries are the risks of climate change, the thrust of desertification etc. also major factors wellness discount. This critical situation inevitably leads to poor social conditions and generally to unmet needs and human rights of the population.

To contact Jeunes Verts-Togo
Esso-kl’nam Pedessi
essoklnam (at)

Meeting Patricia Mc Ardle, the Solar Lady

Posted Tuesday 21 April 2015 by Eva Wissenz.

I’ve met Patricia McArdle a few years ago through her novel Farishta, where she shares about her experience in Afghanistan as a diplomat and the time she spent there spreading awareness about solar cooking. In this post Patricia answers us a few questions about her solar passion.

How did you discover solar?
I first discovered solar cooking as a child when my Girl Scout troop made a solar cooker out of cardboard box, a piece of glass and some aluminum foil. We melted chocolate and marshmallows. I didn’t think about solar cooking again until fifty years later when I was sent to northern Afghanistan by the U.S. government to spend a year as the diplomatic advisor to a British Army infantry unit.
These soldiers conducted peacekeeping patrols across the northern mountains and deserts. When I accompanied their six-man convoys I saw many young children pulling up bushes and carrying huge bundles of brush home for their mothers’ cooking fires. People told me that because almost all the trees in northern Afghanistan had been cut down for firewood, all that was left to burn was brush and dung. They also told me that the sun shines more than 300 days per year in that part of the world. When they mentioned the sun, it triggered the memory of my long ago Girl Scout solar cooker project.
I did some research on the Internet and found the website of California-based Solar Cookers International, which features many solar cooker designs. I built several out of cardboard and foil and tested them on the roof of our camp. I took one on patrol to demonstrate in the villages we visited. All of this is recounted in my novel Farishta, a fictional war memoir inspired by my year in Afghanistan. Once I saw the Afghan’s enthusiastic reaction to solar cooking I was hooked on this technology and have continued to promote it since I returned to the U.S. in 2006.

What is your involvement in solar movement?
After my solar epiphany in Afghanistan, I attended the Solar Cookers International Conference in Granada, Spain, where I met the leaders in the world solar cooking sector. After seeing their designs in action, I tried to convince the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to support this technology. I met significant resistance from development ‘experts’ in my government, which has inexplicably persisted for the past ten years. I continue to write, speak and demonstrate this technology around the world and still hope to change the U.S. government’s negative position on solar cooking technology. I have served on the board of directors of Solar Household Energy and Solar Cookers International and for three years was the editor of the Solar Cooker Review. I continue to write about solar thermal cooking technology, test new designs and help startups with networking. Solar cooking will be my passion for the rest of my life.

Do you think a solar economy is possible?
A solar (thermal and photovoltaic) economy is definitely possible (I include wind energy in this mix) but it will have to include a huge increase in energy efficiency in everything we do. We also need much more investment in advanced thermal and battery storage technologies to ensure a steady supply of energy even when there’s no sun. To complement solar energy we must develop and commercialize new sources of geothermal, tidal and other green and renewable types energy. The fossil fuel industry is doing everything it can to slow earth’s transition to a zero emission, green energy economy, but we must never give up. We can do this.

World Vision and the Weconomy Program

Posted Saturday 4 April 2015 by Eva Wissenz.

Juha-Erkki Mäntyniemi, COO and Innovation Director, is presenting shortly the Weconomy program powered by the NGO World Vision. We plan a fruitful cooperation in Kenya with this program.

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