EMPOWER: Vol 3. Issue 2 – March 2021

Home / News / EMPOWER: Vol 3. Issue 2 – March 2021
Posted On: 03.08.2021

The President’s Short Message 
Is IEEE Smart Village a Charity?
In a recent phone call to a member of the ISVx South Asia Working Group (SAWG), I was asked “Isn’t ISVx a typical charity? I quickly answered no, ISVx is not a charity. Before expanding on this answer, I asked why that question was asked. The response was that charitable organizations typically will come into a community, throw money at an issue and then leave. In the long run, the community most times is worse after the money runs out than before the charity arrived. A few people may benefit in the short term, but most of the people do not. This is like the person who wins the lottery, immediately spends money extravagantly, runs out of money and ends up worse off afterwards.

Rather than being considered a charity, I like to look at ISVx as providing venture capital. ISVx receives proposals from prospective entrepreneurs which must include opportunities in energy, education and enterprises – the three ISVx pillars. Each project must have a business plan which shows profitability and scalability. Only if the project looks profitable and the risks look reasonable, will ISVx provide venture capital in the form of seed money.
ISVx is different from the standard venture capitalist in that ISVx’s return on investment is based on the observation and satisfaction that the business venture (the project) is successful. In other words, the businesses continue, income increases, standard of living improves and the recipients are better off afterwards than before.

John Nelson,
– President

Masters of Sustainable Development
“We’re in each other’s DNA”: IEEE Smart Village and the Regis Master of Development Practice

IEEE adopted the Smart Village initiative in 2014 to empower engineers in the Global South with the resources to drive electrification in their own communities, regions and countries. The Regis Masters of Development Program (MDP) came into being the very next year, conceived as a transformative education that would break open the technical silos that had doomed so many development projects over decades of international efforts.

“We’re in each other’s DNA”: IEEE Smart Village and the Regis Master of Development Practice

IEEE adopted the Smart Village initiative in 2014 to empower engineers in the Global South with the resources to drive electrification in their own communities, regions and countries. The Regis Master of Development Program (MDP) came into being the very next year, conceived as a transformative education that would break open the technical silos that had doomed so many development projects over decades of international efforts.

From the perspective of 2020, the marriage has been more than a marriage; the MDP and ISV can truly be said to be in each other’s DNA. From top ISV leadership to the newest of ISV New Talent, over 60 members of the IEEE community have by now taken advantage of the opportunity to learn holistic development skills and approaches through the Regis Development Practice program.

The growth in the ISV model from its earliest incarnation, when it catalyzed projects through technology donations, to the current three pillars approach, wherein electrification and enterprise are mutually sustaining and grounded in education, reflects an exciting evolution of thought. Today, ISV is framed by systems thinking, the primacy of the community, and an increasing focus on impact, as reflected in its growing investment in monitoring & evaluation. With the addition of the praxis program, we have built a series of short-term courses around data – its collection, assessment and communication – taught through M&E, qualitative methods, data visualization and program. Students who complete the whole series earn the praxis Certificate of Evidence-based Development. And the learning has been a two-way street.

The presence of ISV entrepreneurs in the Regis Development Practice program has provided a continuous feedback loop for improvement of the MDP curriculum and teaching methods from a practitioner perspective. Over the years since 2015, we have completely revamped both the courses we offer and the ways we deliver them, to the point where participants in our program can confidently expect an optimal synergy of theory and practice, global and local, and always, the opportunity to deploy their learning in their projects. As one ISV Scholar-Entrepreneur memorably put it, “Everything I learn on Tuesday, I use on Wednesday.”

The MDP of 20-21 directly serves our students through a targeted and sequential curriculum; capitalizes on our international cohorts by ensuring students learn as much from each other as from the faculty; and supports the full development of a grassroots enterprise in the form of a Capstone project. We have added an elective course in financial resource development to equip students with the skills to diversify their funding streams. Students may now customize the 15-credit Certificate of Development Practice to close the knowledge gaps that may be holding them back from meeting their goals in the field. With all of these initiatives, we have opened up our curriculum to better serve practitioners at various stages of professional and project development.

For that learning and for the opportunity to work with extraordinary young leadership in the Global South, the Regis Development Practice program is eternally grateful to IEEE Smart Village and our partnership!

How does MDP contribute to the goals of Smart Village?

The Regis University Development Practice program provides an integrated, collaborative, accessible, and affordable education that goes beyond technical knowledge to a holistic understanding of sustainable community development. The program provides a training ground for proven local leaders to grow their capacity to more meaningfully serve their communities. The Master’s program is a member of the Global Association of MDP Programs and meets the Association’s standard of 29 core Development Practice competencies, as articulated by the MacArthur Foundation. Students earn the MDP over three years of part-time study, with 42 credit hours of coursework, including a Capstone project. The Certificate of Development Practice is a 15-credit-hour foundational program, attainable within one year of part-time study. The praxis Certificate of Evidence-based Development is a five-credit program consisting of a series of one-credit courses in monitoring and evaluation. Short-term and intensive, praxis courses are intended for social entrepreneurs with targeted goals around measuring and enhancing/understanding their impact.

Put simply, Regis Development Practice provides a bridge from ISV development goals to the real-world thriving communities we all want to see. Grounded in the best learnings of the development sector and continuously shaped by the globally-networked discussion that comprises our classroom, the Regis education provides ISV Scholars with the tools and creativity to navigate the myriad challenges that continually undermine the best-laid project plans.

Here, in their own words, are the testimonials of a few of our ISV Scholar-Entrepreneurs:

From Eng. Tunde Salihu, MD/CEO Shaybis Nigeria Ltd., 2020 Praxis Certificate of Evidence-based Development:
“I attended the Monitoring and Evaluation classes. The training has helped me to align my perspectives on the overall impact of my project to the overall goal of our company, the interest of our donors and most importantly the affected community members. We now capture our purpose better on every project; identifying other secondary benefits that will add more value to all parties. Our application of M&E starts from projection conception to implementation and management. I look forward to having more members of my team benefit from the program in the near future.”

From Eng. Chelangat Mercy Koech, Maa Trust, 2023 Master of Development Practice:
“This is a lifetime opportunity for me to blend in my engineering skills with social and entrepreneurial skills. This is necessary in order to ethically conduct research at the field while at the same time adhering to the best of practices. For effective community development, there are certain aspects that need to be followed to ensure sustainability. I am glad to be receiving well-tailored lessons on the selected coursework.

The best part about the MDP study is the level of interaction and sharing between my fellow students and lecturers. I enjoy the one-on-one discussions during the lessons and appreciate the fact that everyone’s point of view counts. Having the cohort participants coming from different backgrounds, it is very exciting to share our diverse points of views. Assignments in form of group researches and presentations are very helpful and the peer reviewed assignments provide a new perspective on highlighted issues.”

Sonal Asgotraa, Global Himalayan Expedition, 2018 Certificate of Development Practice
“The MDP has provided invaluable feedback and inputs for our newest ecotourism project, helping us to reflect on and rethink some of the most critical aspects of the project in order to make it more effective and sustainable. I have actually taken a print-out of my final assignment with my professor’s comments and distributed it among our team to have a read as well.

Through this project, we are treading on a completely uncharted territory and it is by standing on the shoulders of giants the MDP has connected us to that we are able to see newer horizons and bring more depth to what we are doing.”

Power Africa Conference 2021 Preparations Underway
With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic still a major concern across the globe, the 2021 edition pose to depict the 2020 edition as the IEEE travel ban restriction still make an in-person conference impossible. The debate is still on for an in person, hybrid or totally virtual conference. While we shall surely miss the opportunity of seeing the great heritage and culture of Nairobi if a virtual event is opted, the new norm made it possible to reach out to diverse audiences to participate in the conference while travel cost is reduced to zero.

Power Africa Conference 2019 – Abuja Nigeria

 

The conference is scheduled to be held from August 23 to August 27, 2021 as conference organization is now at top gear with ISVx volunteers especially members of the Africa working group are working around the clock to deliver yet another successful conference.

This year’s edition of the conference will feature practitioner’s papers, giving industry professionals and entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their work and get it published in the IEEE Xplore. The conference will also feature its regular plenary, panel, workshop, tutorial, PhD forum, exhibition, competition and for the first time it will recognize outstanding authors with awards. The call for papers is still open and we strongly encourage submission to this great conference. Visit: https://ieee-powerafrica.org/ for more details.

IEEE Power Africa conference as always is a premier conference providing a forum for research scientists, engineers, and practitioners to present and discuss latest research findings, ideas, and emerging technologies and applications in the area of power systems integrations, business models, technological advances, policies and regulatory frameworks for the African continent. This year’s theme is Regional Integration, Emerging Trends and Energy Sustainability in Advancing Africa’s Economic Progress. The conference registration will soon be open but for general enquiry about the conference you can email or contact info@ieee-powerafrica.org and for sponsorship or partnership you can email partners@ieee-powerafrica.org.

MEMBER GRADE: Life Fellow
Putting Award Money to “Greater Use”

For John Nelson, the rewards of giving back to his field began early in his career. As a student in the early 1970s, he said, “my role as the Denver Section Student Activities Chair showed me that I could make a difference in student lives and the advancement of electrical engineering.”

“My continued experience in IEEE allowed me to meet many people, forge numerous friendships, and gain technical knowledge and opportunities that I most likely would never have experienced.”

Though he admits that he has not historically contributed financially to many organizations, Nelson felt differently about IEEE. After receiving $10,000 from the IEEE Richard Harold Kaufmann Award and $5,000 from the IEEE Industry Applications Society’s (IAS) Outstanding Service Award, “I believed that there was a better use and greater need for that money,” Nelson explained. He contributed to the IEEE Foundation’s IAS Petroleum and Chemical Industry Eugene J. Fagan Fund, which aligned with areas he had supported over the years. In June 2020, he said “I became the President of IEEE Smart Village (ISV) and met fabulous people around the world, including ISV founders Ray Larsen and Robin Podmore. I subsequently worked closely with the IEEE Foundation to set up the new ‘IEEE Smart Village Hall of Honor Fund’ in recognition of Ray and Robin, which will be formally introduced in 2021 to advance ISV Entrepreneurs through educational opportunities.”

With nearly one billion people around the world having little or no access to electricity, he says “my contributions support ISV’s mission to provide energy, education and entrepreneurship opportunities to empower people in developing countries, and I believe that contributing to ISV is one of the best decisions a person could make.” “IEEE Smart Village isn’t providing a fish – we’re providing the fishing pole,” he said, noting that contributions to ISV, the IEEE Foundation or other initiatives don’t need to be large. Concluded Nelson, “the feeling from making any size donation is great!”

Recap of Power Africa Conference -2019

Ingredients for a more Prosperous and Delicious World
When Joan Kerr read a newspaper article asking for donations to replenish empty shelves at a local food bank, an idea sparked: “how can food be more accessible for communities of hunger and poverty?” She asked a group of friends to help her create a solution that would satisfy feeding the hungry and build a more secure local food strategy for everyone. That was in December 2008 and by Spring 2009 the garden project started, with donations of land with a country farmhouse, seeds, plants, soil and compost. Lumber for trellises and fences, and mulch for water conservation and plant protection came later. The next couple of years more volunteers came, and so did the need to teach them horticultural skills, and to entertain them.

When Joan Kerr read a newspaper article asking for donations to replenish empty shelves at a local food bank, an idea sparked: “how can food be made more accessible for communities of hunger and poverty?” She asked a group of friends to help her create a solution that would satisfy feeding the hungry and build a more secure local food strategy for everyone. That was in December 2008 and by Spring 2009 the garden project started, with donations of land with a country farmhouse, seeds, plants, soil and compost. Lumber for trellises and fences, and mulch for water conservation and plant protection came later. The next couple of years more volunteers came, and so did the need to teach them horticultural skills, and to entertain them.

Remembering and missing the days when she was growing up, the fellowship of community where people came together to eat, dance and have fun, Joan, thought that since there was a house at the garden let create a place for community members to eat, learn and connect with each other. The project launched the teaching and demonstration garden to offer the public the opportunity to learn about growing food, and incorporate vegetables in their home gardens. These events became food festivals, cultural events, and as the participation increased, so did the need for education. Following numerous garden models, community building and education sessions, the Climate Smart Victory Garden was created.

Although the Foundation for Building Sustainable Communities tried many models, the historic British “Dig In” campaign of civic engagement, growing food and entrepreneurship most closely aligned with the principles of sustainable strategies. The Foundation enhanced the model by adding today’s pressing issues of climate change, nutrition security and poverty to promote healthy and self-sufficient lifestyles as core components. The Climate Smart Victory Garden is designed with community in mind: it offers programming which promotes prosperity over the long term. To date, we have achieved the following:

  • Established 57 allotment garden plots.
  • Created 30 demonstration plots for community education.
  • Created a Native Three Sisters & Medicine Garden.
  • Redecorated 1865 farmhouses with used materials and repurposed furnishings.
  • Hosted community events – vintage tea party, youth groups, handicrafts show, barbecues.
  • Over 600 youth participated in the Agriculture Community Service portion of the Local Youth in the Police Leadership Program.
  • Launched Victory Gardens in Tanzania in 2017 that now employs 2 women and 2 youth with revenues generated by the sales of the market garden.
  • Large 45 trailer and two outdoor pavilion classrooms.
  • Donated over 66,000 pounds of food from 2008 to 2019.
  • Erected a large greenhouse with a solar PV system.

In 2013, the greenhouse/hoophouse was built with 18′ x 72′ wooden frame, metal poles, plastic coverings, salvaged windows and doors. The project team involved community members, the local IEEE Student Branch, the Women in Engineering chapter (WIE), and a senior engineer to design the technology for the greenhouse. IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) provided the funds for the costs of materials and supplies.
The greenhouse helped extend the growing season, increased teaching opportunities and even provided a warmer place for fall events such as saving seeds workshops, pumpkin carvings and tasting a variety of preserved vegetables such as beets, pickles, and carrots.
Toward 2030

The Climate Smart Victory Garden became a global program, when as mentioned above, using Tanzania as a pilot project, building on its success, to promote this viable model for solving many environmental, economic and social issues. We are now designing a training program for an organization to train over 100 people to start gardens in South Asia as small enterprises. To respond to the needs of communities, we need to listen, and design solutions with them, not for them and this model gives the framework to help achieve that, because there is room in every component to customize the solutions and make it their own. The consultative process will make a positive difference because education is a powerful skill, more than that practical application, enabling networks, resource sharing can lead to local community economic development while respecting cultural food heritage, traditional crafting, and provide solutions for individual and small scale enterprise. The program comprises of the following:

  • Introduction to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Global Citizenship
  • Victory Garden: what is a victory garden, history, nutrient value of vegetables, civic engagement, growing, maintaining, harvesting, preserving, and storing food, cooking: local, seasonal, cultural culinary creations and Entrepreneurship
  • Sustainable Agriculture Principles
    o water and energy conservation
    o observation, adaptation and mitigation
    o smart technologies
    o biodiversity and preservation of native species
    o Nature Based Solutions
  • Off-grid solutions
  • Homefront: traditional skills

We are happy to be part of IEEE Smart Village nextgen, and see the relationship as a fruitful and mutually supportive one.

Maa Trust Brick Making and Construction Projects
Brick production is one of the oldest and omnipresent construction methods on earth. The industry has been in circulation for more than 8000 years, and has been absorbed by local building material in countless cultures around the globe.

In Kenya, the Maa Trust offers proof that brick making contributes to both technical sustainability and community development. The Maa trust is carrying out two projects that have demonstrated the viability of rapidly training of 38 Maasai youths in the skills of brick making and from home to office construction.
“When I joined Maa Bricks, I thought it was the hardest thing in the world and that I would not understand how to be able to make bricks. However, within a few months, I finished learning and now I can make bricks. When I look at the Vocational Training Center and the staff housing which is constructed using bricks that I was part of producing, I feel very happy and proud. It gives me confidence that I can achieve anything that I set my mind on. Thanks to The Maa Trust for giving me the opportunity to learn and earn.” Katewa Soit, Maa Bricks graduate.

Vocational Training Center

 

The key to the financial viability of these projects is a brick making machine that hydraulically presses a mix of sand, soil and cement into bricks. This machine was imported from Brazil at an FOB Brazil cost of around $20,000.

Hydraulically compressed soil Maa Bricks were used to construct both buildings.

With the help from one of the local university’s civil engineering department, the organization has managed to get the mix of cement needed for the strength of bricks because in the early versions, the lips around the holes were not strong enough.

With the bricks now strong enough, the craft of this brick-making has proven to be a catalyst of community-building. As the community grows, socio-economic conditions gradually improve and new urban nodes are formed around the production facility.

New Staff Housing

GHE Lights up Remote Nagaland Indian Village Bordering Myanmar
The Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), recently electrified one of the remotest villages in northeast India on the Indo-Myanmar border in the state of Nagaland. The area belongs to the world-famous headhunter tribes that have been living on the Eastern Himalayas for centuries in the dense forests of Nagaland.

The Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), recently electrified one of the remotest villages in northeast India on the Indo-Myanmar border in the state of Nagaland. The area belongs to the world famous headhunter tribes that have been living on the Eastern Himalayas for centuries in the dense forests of Nagaland.

The bamboo torch was the source of light after dusk in the area for almost 44 years after it was set up. The last of these torches were lit on February 15th, the day before solar-powered LED bulbs lit up the village of 60 families belonging to the Konyak Naga community.

The state of Nagaland is one of the most underdeveloped states in India and the electrification of the village by GHE has had a huge response by the local government.
As such, GHE has partnered with Mon District Administration of Nagaland to attract Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) based funding for more than 50 villages, which are still not electrified in the Mon District region of Nagaland alone. In addition to electrification, GHE also sees opportunities in Digital Education, solar powering medical centers and even creating livelihood models on handicrafts and homestays in the Mon district of Nagaland.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2_SA-NzdMk